Thursday, December 30, 2010

Butterflies and Starships



The butterfly effect is the theory that a butterfly beating its wings in South America can cause a chain of events that leads to a tornado in Texas. Of course with chaos theory you can imagine something like that as well as that same butterfly’s wing flap causing the most gentle stir of a breeze in Texas that allows a fragrance enough strength to move into a room and someone smells it and it brings back fond memories and lakes their day. Chain of events done.
The story I have about a butterfly effect involves a high school yearbook in 1986 and impulse purchase made eight years earlier. And there is an ironic twist.
The German Disco Group Bony M. was not well known in America. In 1978 they released Their Album Nightflight to Venus. The title track is a percussion dominated song with narration that sounds like Cylons from classic Battlestar Galactica. A grandmother was shopping in Australia for her grandson and spotted the album. It looked science fiction themed and she knew he was fond of Star Wars so she bough it for him. That grandson was my friend, Alan who played the tape for me. We both enjoyed the drum-beats and overall ethereal sound of the song. The opening narration with the Cylon voice welcomed everyone aboard the starship. A name was given and to us it sounded most likely that the Cylon called the starship Olion.
A few years later Maui Youth Theatre was doing the stage Production of Starman Jones. The director asked me to put together a mixed tape of good sci-fi music. So along with Meco’s Star Wars/Cantina band and other sci-fi music I included Bony M. singing Nightflight to Venus.
Our friend Hans was enamored by the song so I gave him a copy. We discussed the song and I told him how Bony M.’s music was hard to find in the U.S. I also told him the Starship’s name was The Olion.
Hans took me for a ride in his Toyota pickup once and he started the motor and drove in time to the music. Then I saw in his senior year book that he wrote a shout out to his truck. He named it Olion.
So the impulse purchase in Australia caused a chain of events that led to the yearbook hat-tip. And what teenage guy wouldn’t name his vehicle? I thought it was very cool. But here comes the twist. I bought the CD in Budapest, Hungary years later. I realized that they were not saying Olion. So I finally looked up the lyrics on the internet. Here is what the Cylon actually says:

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard the starship Boney M for our first passenger flight to Venus.

There you have it. There never was a Starship called Olion. Like Jimi Hendrix kissing a guy, it was misheard lyrics.
So Hans, your truck was even more unique that you knew at the time. Thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

from fire to quiet

I can vaguely remember what I was doing at the stroke of the New Year for the past 23 years. As early as 1979 I remember lying in bed listening to the roar of firecrackers outside. Hawaii’s mix of cultures includes a good dose of Chinese. Even through the western calendar New Year is not at the same time as the Chinese New Year the tradition of firecrackers and other fun things is ingrained into the Hawaiian culture.
I remember being at a boat dock in Lahaina one year and a boat sitting up off the parking lot under some trees caught fire. That was exciting and it was an exciting year. Of course I began to believe that whatever I was doing at the stoke of midnight at the year’s beginning was significant and would dictate the rest of my year. I began 1988 with a powerful firecracker nearly going off in my hand. That year was both thrilling and turbulent. As the end of 1990 rolled around I quit my job at Pizza Hut and visited friends on Maui. At a New Year’s party as midnight swept up I walked away from the revelers and said a little prayer. I had strayed a bit from God but I knew that I belonged under his control. I wanted my life to be different. Midnight came. That week I decided to move to Maui. In two months I was working for a radio station. In another two months I was full time. In November of that year I stated dating Prajna. I spent that New Year’s with her.
That was the last of the New Year’s that seemed to be significant. The next year Prajna and I were together at the radio station at midnight. Years after that we had children asleep in bed. I guess that once my life was right enough I didn’t need superstition to make me believe that I would have a good year. From parties and fires to actually sleeping through midnight I guess it’s also just growing older and discovering what’s more important.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Joy of the Star

Every year the classes at Kamehameha III School in Lahaina would put on a Christmas pageant. From youngest to oldest classes would present a short Christmas themed skit or musical number. I began going to the school in the third grade. My class combined with some other third graders sang two songs and acted out a U.S. Mainland theme with kids pretending to play in the snow.
The week of the play we went to the cafeteria to rehearse. An upper grade was still there, probably 5th or 6th graders. When their teacher saw us she drooped and addressed her class to run it one more time.
“And this time,” she sighed. “Get it right okay?”
‘Do you hear what I Hear?’ played. The kids shuffled around the stage looking at each other. Then when the song mentioned the star a girl came out onto the stage with a confident and cheerful smile and danced with absolute enjoyment.
When the pageant took place a few days later the student’s costumes made it easier to tell the king from the shepherd and the whole thing made more sense. Only the star’s costume seemed to take away from the arresting joy I still remember today.
That may be the first time I really noticed the song. Years after every Christmas season I declared it one of my favorites. Then a few years ago it hit me that there is a story behind this song wanting to be told. It seemed so obvious that I still search around for it but it seems no-one has heard the night wind telling them to compose a story about a Lamb and its shepherd boy braving a winter countryside to tell the king the most important news either of them will ever hear.
I have five pages so far. There is still a long way to go and I only read it and think about writing it around this time of year. Someone remind me in June to pick it up.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

dosn't make me upsot

We sang Christmas music in Sunday school when I was very young. Well past the Christmas season I annoyed song leader insisting we sing Jingle Bells.
Without a doubt one of my favorite things about Christmas is the music. I can’t nail down a favorite Christmas song even though there are several that I could go the rest of my life not hearing. Some of my favorites every year are Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Commin’ to Town and Vanessa Williams’ knock-down gospel version of Go Tell it on the Mountain. I love The Trans Siberian Orchestra and also the parodies by Bob Rivers. Some of my most memorable Christmas seasons were when I was in a choir or musical production at the time or the three years I worked at KNUI Radio.
I have a very early memory of the church organist in Jerome, Arizona playing O Little Town of Bethlehem is a prelude for the Christmas Eve service nearly 40 years ago. One summer Sunday as I sat in bored in church I thumbed through the hymnal and found the section of Christmas music. There were two versions of Hark! The Herald Angles Sing. One was subtitled Eastertide and the other said Mendelssohn. I thought Mendelssohn meant Christmas and didn’t know that the composer Felix shared a name albeit spelled differently with a little girl on the other side of the island what I would marry someday.
I hummed O Little Town of Bethlehem to myself each Sunday and it felt like Christmas. Then when it really was Christmas, that song didn’t take me there. The magic was used up and gone. Now I refuse to listen to Christmas music if it isn’t close enough to Christmas. But when it’s Christmas let the music play. So for just about a month there isn’t such a thing as too much Christmas music. Thanks local radio stations for playing it so much, so far for not playing the Barbara Streisand version of Jingle Bells.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What I believe about this time of year.

The North Pole is the northernmost point on Earth. The Earth’s axis of rotation is there. The is no landmass, only a sheet of ice that is constantly in motion. Although fish and wildlife have been observed near The North Pole, nothing lives there. This includes any jolly old elf with a toy workshop.
Oh David, how can you say there is no Santa Claus? Well I didn’t actually. Let me tell this true story that is completely unrelated to my life and children just a decade ago. When I was a teenager there was a little girl in my town diagnosed with leukemia. I had only known one other person that had cancer and that took his life. I never knew children could get it. Then right around Christmas she and her family received plane tickets and a trip to Disneyland. It was signed from Santa Claus.
This was before Make-a-Wish was well known. This gift was from a benefactor who wanted to remain nameless. I found out later that a local church had done this. It didn’t take any of the magic and wonder from me. I saw a picture of the little girl with The Mouse. She had a cap covering her head and a shy smile. I was touched. And after years of not believing and even after finding out that a church had done this for the family I believed in Santa Claus. This was not the fat man with the beard and red suit from the Coca-Cola cans. What I believed was that people still can be as if there is a spirit living within them that would do a wonderful thing like that.
Christians, heathens, agnostics and the poor atheists who think that they can be good for goodness sake are all capable of having this spirit in them. It is Christens who recognize it for what it is. Despite our sinful selfish selves, we were created in the image of God and his image is in us giving us a sense of what is right and wrong. Our God wanted to come and be with us so he was born in Bethlehem in order to give us the greatest gift of all. And once in a while if you look you can see God in other people, more than ever this time of year. So let’s all show God’s love in what do and who we are.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

up on the housetop in the sandbox

Living in Arizona in my 3rd to 8th year, I had a sandbox in my backyard. Chucky, Darrin, and sometimes Mark would come over and play. Our favorite thing was building tunnels. This was before the house behind us got a big sand pile and we played on that.
Our next-door neighbor was Mrs. Bean. On the other side were the Harkeys who had a big red dog named Red. Penny Harkey would babysit sometimes and she had a T-bird. I think Mrs. Bean had a Chevy Nova.
We tried to be good neighbors. This meant following a strict rule: Do not bother Mrs. Bean’s yard at all. I may have set the rule myself after the time I got scolded by my mom and dad for stealing her snow one winter. Her snow had no footprints and wasn’t being used anyway.
It was December 1973. A whole bunch of my friends were over one day after school and we played in the sandbox. I liked playing outside when my friends were over better because inside all Chukie wanted to do was play with my cars and I liked to play with my cars by myself.
So one day after school we were all in the sandbox and we were singing. It must have been pretty close to Christmas because we were all singing "Up on the Housetop."
We were happy that it was almost Christmas. The sand was too dry to work with so we got a hose and turned it on in the sandbox. The water made little canyons that looked like The Grand Canyon, but smaller.
"Ho-Ho-HO," we all sang real loud. "Who would know?"
The afternoon was joyous as only 6 and 7 year olds know.
“HO-HO-HHOOO!! Who would know?”
Then I saw it. The water from the hose was forgotten long enough and I saw calamity. I had to tell my friends, but not ruin the moment. So I kept singing, just different words:
"And ho-ho-ho, who would know that the water is going into Mrs. Bean's yard?" There was a pause of dead silence and then a collective gasp. Suddenly the sandbox was alive with boys running around shouting orders to each other like the 3 Stooges in a sinking rowboat.
The water was finally stopped. And we prayed that Mrs. Bean wouldn't notice the wet spot on the far corner of her backyard.
The next day at school we were all happy to have lived through the disaster. We didn't talk about it much. But when the class all sang "Up on the Housetop," we looked at each other and shuddered knowingly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boldog karácsonyt.

The first time I spoke Hungarian without thinking about it was when I was Christmas shopping for Prajna our second year there. My knowledge of the daunting language had progressed well from the previous Christmas. Our first Christmas I had to take a cheat sheet with me. Students called cheat sheets a puska and I’m glad I didn’t call it that when I was fishing it out of my pocket in the shop because it translates literally as gun. I had four words written on my puska then. Nagy árbocgomb feleség terhes. It basicly said large pillow wife pregnant. My grammar was incorrect, but Prajna got a pillow for Christmas.
It snowed our first Christmas and for the first time I understood the line from ‘Tas the night before Christmas’ that talks about the moon on the snow giving the brightness of day.
That was a fun Christmas and one of my fondest Christmas memories of my whole life will be teaching Jingle Bells Batman Smells to one particular class. This class was the most disliked in the school with a bunch of nutty students. We got a long great. I mentioned the song to them and they asked me to teach it.
“Mister Faux teach us the Jingle Batman song.” So I said I would if they were good. They were and that afternoon groups of the class were belting out Jingle Bells Batman Smells in the cavernous corridors of the school. Once where Soviet Anthems and communist propaganda flourished was a juvenile bit of western culture. I was thrilled.
The next Christmas we had Benjamin along with Harrison and Naomi. It didn’t snow that year even though it was cold and icy. Prajna hinted she wanted perfume. I was in a touristy shopping area and asked the price of Chanel #5. When they told me I blurted Jó Isten (good God). Prajna got a very small bottle for Christmas.
That same year a shopkeeper gave me a wide warm smile and told me Boldog karácsonyt. I smiled back and returned Merry Christmas which they understood. It was nice to know plenty of people knew that English phrase.
Boldog karácsonyt everyone.

Monday, December 13, 2010

if you complain nothing happens you might as well not bother

I didn’t complain about Southern California’s weather all summer. We had some record breaking heat waves too. I’m not boasting, I just realize that complaining about the weather won’t change it. Except in the winter I sometimes forget that and whine about the cold.
This past week while much of North America was suffering through a winter storm we here were enduring sunny temperatures in the 80’s. Even my friends in Hawaii were hit with a winter storm. I was loving it.
Later in the winter I’m sure we will have icy mornings. Cold mornings are worse that any other time of cold day. At least I don’t go work outside in the cold any more. When I was a surveyor the most unpleasant cold I think I experienced was in Victorville with temps in the low 40’s but icy sustained winds in the 30’s ignoring every layer of clothing and making me feel like I was in a frigid river.
People who prefer extreme cold to extreme heat tell me that with the cold you can bundle up and move around but when it’s sweltering there is no more you can do. While I agree with this I still prefer too much heat to too much cold. Cold is like death. Heat maybe to but not as unpleasant.
When I started this blog out I was thinking about sharing Christmas memories from Hungary and beginning with the weather in Budapest which was nice. Then I went on and on about the weather. With many cultures that is the most polite topic of small talk. But I will wrap up this weekly blog just thanking anyone who reads this. I have almost 100 entries and it really does matter to me that it gets read. I won’t fool myself into believing that this navel gazing is just to keep writing and shout out in the emptiness.
On the subject of complaining which this entry touches on, I want to state that I will try to never make that the main focus of an entry here. We all get complaining from all sides all day and this should be safe from it. If I managed to not get all abysmal last week around the anniversary of Naomi’s death then I can avoid complaining about chilblains that are my own fault for not wearing socks.
I’ll talk about Budapest next time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

the soup of loss, honor and moving on

We were preparing lunch in the boy scouts when a friend arrived in a grand flourish. He exploded from his family car and his right hand shot in the air as if he was answering the question ‘who wants to live today?’. He had brought Scottish Bangers to us. He had just discovered they were available at Foodland and had not had them since he had lived in Australia years ago. Apparently bangers should be fried in a pan and served on the side of something. We cut them up and put them in soup. My friend nearly wept at the misuse of them all through lunch. He made such a dramatic fuss that our scoutmaster finally shouted to him that the bangers were in the soup and there was nothing he could do about it and eat them and quit crying.
Sometimes we lose something before our plans are fulfilled. It can devastate us.
When I die I really hope that I am remembered as a great father and grandfather. I hope they go on and on about the stories I told and what an inspiration I was. But none of this is on my friends or children to do. If I want to be remembered that way it is entirely up to me. Once I am gone I have no say what happens. They can cremate me and scatter me in the ocean, sell my corpse to science or put me in soup. I don’t care, I’ll be gone.
When someone loses a family member or loved one or friend they can go to all kind of measures to preserve their memory. Crosses on the side of the road, stickers on the back window of cars, and tattoos are just a few examples.
Soldiers can be honored to help their comrades in arms go on. Families can receive closure from burials and memorials. Senseless deaths can be brought to the attention of others to perhaps prevent it happening again.
People can do what they feel is right as long as they don’t deceive themselves. Anything they do to honor the lost is not for the lost it is for them. It is those left behind that miss their loved one. It is those who grieve who have the pain. The one who is lost is not benefited by anything. They are gone.
Naomi died eight years ago tomorrow and yes I still miss her and of course I wish she was still here. But it doesn’t honor her to dwell on her loss or wallow in misery or use the lost child card playing the game of life. But more that dishonoring her memory is this, I have to move on. This is my life now and today with no Naomi. I have other things to care more about.
Sometimes we lose something or someone before our plans (like walking her down the aisle at her wedding) are fulfilled. It can devastate us. But we can and must heal and move on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sophomoric Communication

When I was young and in college some 25 years ago a friend gave me a T-shirt for my birthday. It was always a safe bet that I would like a T-shirt and this one became one of my favorites. It was white with black letters imploring: “SMILE if your (sic) not wearing panties.” I likes wearing the short to watch people’s reactions. Getting a reaction out of people, good or bad, seemed to be my goal back then. I think it’s why all authors write and indeed my any artist expresses themselves through their craft. (Monetary payoff might be just as big a reason)
Not long after I got the t-shirt I also got a fake hand. It was rubbery and flesh-tone and looked pretty real unless examined close up. I would walk down the sidewalk with a friend and the hand coming out of my long sleeve and then let it drop to the ground. My friend would casually inform me that my hand fell off. I would look exasperated, pick it up and we would move on.
Then I closed the hand in the trunk of my car and did my driving around with it sticking out. One night after driving home my dad woke me up at about 1:00 in the morning. Two police cars and the Lahaina Precinct detective were at our front door. Someone had been following me home and saw the hand sticking out of my trunk. She called the police presumably when she got home or to a pay phone with my license number and according to the police was very upset.
I showed the police the fake hand and they took it. They didn’t arrest me that night but The Lieutenant called me into the station the next day. I took out my earring before heading up. The police were not amused at this prank. Lieutenant Arakawa showed me the holding cell with feces-smeared walls and then lectured me about malicious mischief.
To date that is the most in trouble I ever was in with the law.
I don’t know how much of a lesson I learned from the scoldings I got. When he showed me the holding cell I realized right away his goal was to scare me. Just like me he was trying to get a reaction out of someone. They kept the fake hand.
I didn’t do anything like that anymore though. I respected the MPD and didn’t like the idea of making their jobs any harder. And now 23 years later I went to the thrift store and bought 5 t-shirts all plain black. If I want to make a statement or get a reaction I’ll do it with my own words written here or spoken face to face.

Monday, November 22, 2010

what makes "Christian education" Christian?

A friend sent me the question: ‘What makes Christian Education Christian?’ and I’ve been pondering over it for a week now. As I write this my kids are asleep in bed while other families around the neighborhood are getting up and getting ready for a short week at government school. The younger students might make turkeys tracing the palm of their hands while older kids might be learning about Squanto or Miles Standish. Or perhaps the students are only being taught what they will need to know to pass the California high School Exit Exam.
Here in our house we have been learning about fractions and percentages in the morning at all kinds of specialized social studies in the afternoon. The kids spend considerably less time waiting in lines or doing busy work at their desk so there is more time for other things like sleeping in a bit and eating every meal as a family.
Christian Education can at its very simplest be said to be any education with a Godly worldview. So if I remind my children what the Bible says about the origin of man I am easily giving them Christian Education. But my answer is not that simple or I would have not addressed the question.
Suppose a child is in a grocery store and takes a candy bar off the shelf and bites into it through the wrapper making the item unsellable. A conscientious parent will purchase the candy bar under the ‘you break it you bought it’ rule. The parent may so this stealthily so the child hopefully never sees that candy bar. If the child is handed that candy bar to eat then something has happened. That child has been educated. The simple ‘if-then’ formula and the reward of for a deed done is one of the best ways to train anyone or anything. My point is this: Education is everywhere and everyday. If I’m in that same grocery store with my children and there I have to make a decision on whether of not to be rude or polite my children will observe and learn from what I do. If the kids and I are looking forward to a day off playing Monopoly all morning and we find a list of chores left for us my Prajna I will insist that the chores are done with a cheerful attitude because love and respect must be modeled first and foremost here at home. The children are corrected for attitude and reminded to pray for thanks and forgiveness.
So while I teach math I don’t really go into how God created numbers and they didn’t just evolve from alphabet soup. But their Christian Education takes place in more than our humble classroom setting.
Many homeschooler will tell you at the drop of a pencil what sad shape the world and nation are in and don’t get them started on government schools. I try not to go there because I know a lot of great parents who send their children to these schools and they have great kids too. We choose to homeschool. But Christian Education less of a choice because as soon as we became parents we understood our obligation to God to bring up our kids according to His ways.

Monday, November 15, 2010

the life changing day

I have seen life maps people create that documents the high and low points of their life so far. A horizontal line moves left to right either up or down at significant events. If I were ever to do that today would be significant.
The line on my life map would remain steadily low until the fall of 1982 when I joined up with Maui Youth Theatre. That changed my life forever and the line on the map would have risen and stayed higher after that. I did more theatre, graduated high school, college, had great days and painful heart breaks and the line would have jumped up and down for the next nine years.
Then in November on 1991 I was living in a bachelor pad in Kihei, Maui. It was time to get out of there. Working night shift and sleeping in the day didn’t work and I was becoming too tempted to fall into some old habits I had ditched. I found a one room apartment in Makawao with rent I could afford. So I did something I hadn’t done for as long as I could remember. I got down on my knees and prayed for God’s will to be done in my life. A week later two friends were helping me move into my new place.
It was November 15th 1991. That date is when the little line on the map of my life rose up higher than ever before and steeper than before or sense. I am not saying that this was the happiest day of my life. The day of my wedding however I was happy for days and months before. The same with my children’s birthdays.
This day 19 years ago just marks the biggest change for the better that ever took place in my life. The day before it I had been bitter and lonely. The night in Makawao one of my friends who helped me move was Prajna and on that night I kissed her for the first time. All the more thrilling days and events followed that day. But on the evening of November 15 1991 my life changed forever.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who is watching me

I left work at about the usual time on Wednesday the 10th on November which was about 10pm. I drove around the back side of the main church building and then out to Bryant Street, turned right and then right again on Wildwood Canyon Road. This road has several intersections all the way down. Some are four-way stops and I pass by two streets where I have no stop sign but the terminating streets do.
At California street I saw the vehicle across from me signal and it looked like we would reach our stop signs simultaneously. So I slowed down a bit enough to leave no question that they were there first and after stopping I went on through. This cost me 3-5 seconds.
I passed the house I lived in for 6 years then second street and then stopped and went at third street and continued down Wildwood Canyon Road.
Wildwood Canyon Road does not have a stop sign at Fourth Street. As I came up to it I saw on my right headlights moving so fast that it was clear they wouldn’t stop. I hit my brakes and clutch and my truck skidded to a stop as two cars ran the stop sign directly in front of me. They were side by side. The one on the right turned and headed away from me while the one closer to me skidded straight across the street and almost hit a sign. I inched my truck forward a bit and the other car’s backup lights came on. The car reversed and then sped off in the direction of the other car. I made an attempt to follow it and get a license plate but it was going too fast and I was shaken up so I pulled over and called 911 instead.
I described the incident to the dispatcher with the information I observed. I thought I had a make and model and definitely a color of the closer car. Then I drove home and did what I do every night which is check on each of my kids.
The 3-5 seconds I spent letting the other car go at California street would have put me right at Fourth street when the two cars ran that stop sign. Every day I thank God for taking care of me in a mostly absent minded sort of way. Regardless of my forgetfulness of God, though, He had not forgotten me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

boring stories of...


I could waste the first paragraph of just about all of my blogs directing what music to listen to for a soundtrack while reading. I could. I did only once before writing about fizziwhiz. For today’s soundtrack get out your old Bruce Springsteen LP side two track four.
Kids, teens especially crave a clear identity when growing up. The Facebook personality tests show this. This identity can come from belonging. This is why kids are in gangs. This is why family is so important. This is why my buddy Mike, (hi Mike) will make a high school youth group as inclusive as Jesus would make it to model what the Kingdom is like.
KittyHawk was formed by four guys for reasons previously stated. We all had talents in writing, acting and music and we wanted to be a troupe to show these things off and eventually build an empire that would be a beacon of profound (but funny) entertainment. We intended to set up a foundation for other aspiring kids like us so no one would have to join the military for college money.
As I also stated in the previous blog, this never happened. Something better did happen. Four guys, then six, then eight had a sense of belonging. We were a little family in a big world of teenage anxiety. We had a beach called KittyHawk beach where we would camp out overnight. We’d build a fire, toast to things that we approved and hang out all night.
The next morning we would walk from the geographical center of our universe to the polar center which was Azeka’s shopping center and the International House of Pancakes. Ihop was more of our headquarters than anywhere else. We spent hours there flipping over placemats to write skits or draw cartoons, spaceships or girls.
After high school one member moved to Australia. We changed our group handshake to remember him. Then two more left for the Army.
KittyHawk became what it was destined to be, a legend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

KittyHawk

My buddy from a long time back is on Facebook now. Facebook being the social black hole that it is and nothing can escape it not even light. I created a private FB group with the same name of the clique that he and I were in. There’s no point to it but that’s okay because it’s just a bunch of electronic bits and bytes bouncing around cyberspace anyway and it’s commemorating a group of teenage boys who would get together and make up wild stories and wilder dreams.
We called our group KittyHawk. This was named after a spaceship in a story I was writing that was named after a location in North Carolina where an event took place that many said was absolutely impossible and would never happen. The spaceship in the story commemorated the dream of the impossible and so did our group of friends. We wanted to be America’s answer to Monty Python. We wanted to make records and movies and publish science fiction books and then make them into movies.
When we decided to form our troupe we were mostly the social misfits of our wider circle of acquaintances. But then we banded together with the cocksure confidence that only comes from being teenagers that haven’t tasted too much of reality. So it wasn’t long before the social misfits were the envy of our wide circle. KittyHawk became a revered name. We became revered.
Then we graduated high school and moved on. One founding member is in Australia, one on Maui, one in Oregon and me in Southern California. But geography didn’t break us up. KittyHawk faded away for the same thing that kills everything eventually and that is time. And while I can cite stories I wrote about time travel and keeping the dream alive as long as one of us still draws a breath it’s a pretty much romantic BS. We never produced a single comedy record or book or film. But the dream we had didn’t die. It just took a backseat to the rest of our lives. That was a great time of my life back then and it was a lot of fun dreaming. But being awake and living a real life is pretty cool too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

broken eggs and flying arrows

Sarah just announced proudly to me that she opened an egg with one hand. I was pleased and impressed, not just that she accomplished it but why. She saw me do it and wanted me to show her how and I actually did. Some things I was never good at but could teach others to do well. I coached archery at camp Maluhia for boy scouts one summer. I could get the boys to have the right form and stance and then even coach them about breathing and visualizing the arrow flying true. (Jedi stuff, but I thought it was cool.) And the boys shot bull’s-eyes. I was very proud of them but when they asked me to shoot I refused. I don’t even think I was tempted to feed them some line about dazzling them too much, I just said there wasn’t time. I couldn’t shoot to save my life.
Other skills I can master but have trouble teaching. I can’t teach Jamie to tie his shoes and I had a terrible time teaching Sarah to do a Hawaiian cat’s cradle. Maybe this is because they both involve strings. Another boy scout skill I had a terrible time with was knot tying.
I learned to crack eggs with one hand watching McDonald’s commercials. An excited voice sang to the tune of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody and there was a close up of a hand breaking an egg against a hard surface. Sarah saw me breaking eggs like this and wanted me to show her. I did and now she can do it too. I have tried to break eggs using one hand and no surface to strike. Maybe some people can do this but I can’t without ruining the egg and making a mess.
If someone has a unique skill like cracking eggs one handed, I might call it a superpower. So my superpowers might include that as well as a few other talents. I can most times tell the gender of an unborn child. I can interpret dreams. And I can make good soup. I would like to think that teaching is one of my superpowers but I can’t go that far. I may be a good teacher but I am also an experienced teacher. I have all kinds of students from enthusiastic learners to shy discoverers to surly teenagers to outright evil manifestations. What I’m saying is teaching is not a superpower because right now I have good students. One of whom is making blueberry pancakes from scratch for breakfast.

Monday, October 25, 2010

this is what I believe part 2

Three Dog Night is one of my favorite bands in the oldies category. I still turn up Joy to the World and Old Fashioned Love Song will always be special because it was the first song I played on the radio for Prajna.
I disagree with Three Dog Night about the number one. Their song proclaims one to be the loneliest number. One isn’t lonely, one is a strong number and sits high where it can see all the other numbers stretching away.
Let me explain. I knew my numbers before kindergarten but the classroom is where I was formally induced to them and I perceived the numbers having personalities. For some the odds were masculine and the evens were feminine. Most were pretty agreeable, but not all. Two is blue, maybe because of the rhyme or maybe because two is moody. Three is the life of the party, unflappable and rude. Four is shy to the point of being quite a prude. The number five is the closest thing to a deity there is on the number line. Five is like the Apollo character in that Star Trek episode with cosmic like powers and even a soft gentle side. Six is conceited. Seven is mysterious and a little scary. Eight is pretty powerful too but tends to be a bit OCD.
And then there’s nine. My friend found a note I scribbled a few years ago and he sent it to me. I wrote the note after discovering some folks had put a bunch of chairs in stacks of nines. I wrote this:
Why do they have to stack the chairs in nines? Why nine? I hate the number nine.
Nine is asymmetrical. It's one less than mighty ten and one more than the helpful eight. But don't feel sorry for nine.
Nine is a wet fart on a hot day. It's the feeling of cheap peppermint gum when the flavor is almost lost.
Nine is a dinner guest no one wants to sit near. Nine salts food before tasting and scuffs the bathroom tiles.
Nine is the sound of a leaf blower in a stairwell on a Sunday afternoon.
Nine is the color of scrambled egg residue soaking on a skillet in the sink waiting to be scraped away.
Nine has the odor of melted plastic.
Yeah that’s how I feel about nine.
This blog has been pretty shallow. I can always justify that I’m just trying to keep the wheels from rusting up but that excuse is getting a little rusty too. So here is the point, I don’t take a whole lot of stuff seriously. So today was flippant. And it felt great.

Friday, October 22, 2010

compositions of the past

It doesn’t help to change the look of my blog to make it more readable and then write nothing. This is unless of course someone just wants to go back and re-read all the previous entries. But not even I really do that. Maybe in a few years, good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I can go back and re-read some. I say this because I have composition books from 14 years ago and maybe even some spiral notebooks from the fifth and sixth grade.
I discovered composition books in the 7th grade and since then they have always been my favorite thing to write important stuff in. I have one that I started in the summer of 1996. Harrison was two, Naomi wasn’t 6 months yet and Prajna and I were living in Kihei getting ready to go to Hungary. I journaled through training expressing how panicked I was. I wrote about a dream/vision I had that reassured me. The day after we arrived in Budapest I sat in the living room of our flat and wrote for 8 or 10 pages chronicling leaving Pasadena, the long plane ride and the night in Helsinki, the arrival in Budapest and our first two days there. Our second day in Budapest Prajna and I rode some public transportation and got ejected for not having valid tickets. We ended up walking home and that afternoon is when I wrote it all down.
I wrote about my first day at school. The following weeks I wrote bits and pieces saying what was happening and how I was feeling. I wrote how thrilled I was to learn we would have a third child and then I wrote an account of Benjamin’s birth.
My second year I wrote very little. I made deliberate entries at significant times including my last day at school. I wrote that last entry in the journal after being back in Hawaii for 6 months. I described the day Sarah was born.
I’ve got other composition books bulging with stuff. I wrote angry entries after losing Naomi. In the same book I tried to journal every morning for a while but they all seem pretty much alike whining how tired I am.
So the 1996-1998 composition book journal is one book I like to look back on. It has panic and joy and travel and comfort. It wouldn’t be too much interest to many others but it is something I will treasure forever.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I didn't tell her she had an ugly baby, but it was

When I graduated college in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in communication the staggering question was: what now? I made a few feeble attempts to get a job at my favorite FM radio station. I ended up returning to the Pizza Hut that I had worked at the previous summer. I was one of the day shift workers with many other drivers having day jobs in the military.
In August of that year I took a plane trip to visit friends as a sort of graduation present. Sitting on by the window on the DC-10 before the night flight took off the woman next to me made small talk. The she was quiet for a bit while she made like she was looking causally through her purse until she pretended to accidentally find a snapshot.
“That’s my baby,” she crooned showing me the picture. I looked. It was a picture of a white BMW Three Series convertible.
The rest of the trip was thrilling with stopping over in Chicago and flying into New York. In the time I had though I began to wonder who I was. Back at home on Oahu weeks later I was back driving pizzas around Wahiawa. I got home and chatted with friends on a computer bulletin board service. A BBS was before the internet. Then I got up and went to work. On my days off I would go to the movies or visit my old college.
My life was going no-where. Then the Pizza Hut folks started talking about training me to be a shift manager. My instant reaction was to reject it. I tried to enlist in the Army. Still wanting to work in radio I wanted to get into the Armed Forces Radio Network. I failed the physical.
I didn’t want to be rich with a car as a child. I didn’t want to define myself as a pizza dude whose greatest bragging rights were how fast he could fold and assemble pizza boxes. I quit my pizza hut job and moved back to Maui in January of 1991. I had a place to stay there and a lead on a job that turned out to be nothing. But it all felt right.
Even in my foul-mouthed, cigarette smoking state I think I was being directed by God. By March I was weekending at a radio station and in another month I was full time graveyard shift. By Christmas I was dating Prajna and among other things she gave me a bag of lollypops to help me quit smoking. I was on the right track by then.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the pipe and the tree

When I lived in Lahaina there was a day care center that used the church facilities. When we moved there in 1975 the preschool director told my sister and I that we could play there during operating hours if we behaved ourselves. Lahaina Day Care Center had no surrounding fences and until they finally moved and enclosed the playground to comply with child care laws no child disappeared.
The playground equipment included monkey bars made of steel strong enough that you probably could have driven a car into them and they would stay intact. There was a tall slide and swings that were just looped chain and no strap at the bottom to sit on. Best of all was a 40 inch wide corrugated metal pipe about 10 feet long. You could crawl into or through the pipe or if you were adventurous you could remove the 4x4 plank of wood from its side and roll in it. Referred to as ‘the pipe’ it could be ridden in with others pushing it and if you sat right you would go upside down.
The next coolest thing in the playground was a banyan tree. This towered 20 to 30 feet in a traditional tree shape. The trunk had no split or handhold for at least 10 feet up so it couldn’t really be climbed. The tree was high maintenance dropping leaves one season and berries another. Mynah birds lived in it and congregated noisily every evening. One night I heard a loud series of cracks like firecrackers. An upper limb of the tree fell off. The groundskeepers took this as a sign and basically decapitated the tree. The trunk stood bare and sunlight bathed the ground beneath for the first time in perhaps decades.
The day care center was under new ownership and called a preschool now. By then the playground had been moved to the back of the school where it could be properly fenced. The swings had com apart too much to repair and the pipe was fixed in place. Over the years the tree grew back. When I last saw it in 2005 it showed no sign of the barbering 20 years back. I’m sure the mynahs are back too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

uphill both ways

I was talking to my kids about growing up going to government school and how I had to get up early and walk to school every day. I don’t know why I put this off as long as I did but I looked up Clarkdale Arizona on map quest and got the distance from the house I lived in to Clarkdale Elementary School. I remember having to leave about eight in the morning and school beginning I think at quarter to nine. Clarkdale was weatherwise similar to Yucaipa except I remember frozen puddles every winter going to school, seeing my breath and being convinced that Chuckie was wearing lipstick one very cold morning.
It seemed like a very long walk. I would often hook up with friends on the way to school and it felt like miles. Well map quest told me that it was .78 miles. Another woeful tale is shattered there although looking at the route online I can remember I didn’t walk the quickest way.
The school district had a bus that brought in kids from Jerome and Centerville which were genuinely miles away. The bus took me home. I never pondered much why it didn’t drive the town kids to school but I can guess now that the out of town kids would have had to get up earlier.
When I moved to Lahaina, Hawaii in the third grade there was no bus service in either direction for kids who lived close to Kamehameha III school. My parents drove me or we carpooled for a while. I walked home a lot and rode my bike by the sixth grade. I finally rode the bus to and from school in intermediate school and high school. Even then I walked home once in a while.
.78 miles. I would have guessed it at least twice that. I never should have looked it up and gone on thinking that I had a real hike back then.

Monday, October 11, 2010

panic comfort and trust

Even if it has been a busy and difficult week for both Prajna and me there is no excuse for not blogging for so long. Tuesday is piano day and the only day that we’re really on a deadline to get breakfast done and leave. But it’s been emotionally taxing and that makes me tired and distracted and I can’t seem to write when I feel like that. Today I’m taking it easy with no work or homeschool but I still got up early just to get something written. The writing wheel definitely seize up quickly if not spun often.
My last day of my old job was Thursday and the first day of my new one was Friday. I tried to get as much stuff done as I could on my last day. There really was a good amount of stuff to do. Then I left my keys on the executive administrator’s desk and coded out of the building for the last time. When I showed up the next day at my new job I had to kind of figure out what to do. I knew that I needed to get the church clean and ready for Sunday and I knew what events were scheduled over the next two days. I knew where all the cleaning supplies were and I could find out everything that had been done. I would have been sure that was all I needed to do my job but I still had trouble getting started. In fact I found myself feeling something that I had not felt in 14 years. It was panic. The last time I felt panic was during training before going to Hungary. I had no idea what I was going to do or where to start. I don’t believe in panic. I didn’t feel panic at any time during Naomi’s illness or loss or when I lost my job several times. Friday night I didn’t panic. But I felt it and identified it. Once I realized with amazement that that is what I really felt I was able to keep my breathing under control and assess the situation. Later on I started cleaning offices. By the time I was vacuuming I felt much better.
Saturday was easier. People tell me that it will take months to acclimate and I know that they’re right. In a few months I will be settled into a new routine and be much more comfortable. But until then I will miss my old co-workers and cleaning cart and supplies and having only four keys to open doors.
It’s all good. I was asked to take this job by a man I greatly respect as a man of God. This makes me believe that I’m in God’s hands. Just like the last time I felt such panic and then everything turned out alright.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the lesson

Only about half the jobs I’ve ever held I left voluntarily. But terminated or not it is never easy to move on. Part of this is because of the obvious reason, I do not like change. But the other reason is not so obvious at least to me. I don’t know if other people can tell this, but it is somewhere that I still lay on a lot of denial. I try to convince myself that I don’t need other people.
Now it is true that I prefer to work alone but I don’t think that’s unusual. But I am lying to myself when I believe that I don’t need to see anyone or talk to anyone all day. And another little corner of denial that I like to dwell in is that other people would not care to be around me. So I would tend to walk around work all day thinking that everyone is better off when I keep to myself.
But that was a deception that I created to shelter myself. And in the three years I have had at my current job that today is my last of I have enjoyed the company of my co-workers. I have had a difficult time this week saying good bye to people. I read the card everyone signed again sometimes.
These three years have been years of personal growth as I’ve learned humility, patience and perspective. But this last week has caused even more personal growth as I discover how much I’m going to miss working with a lot of people who really matter to me. It is a somewhat painful lesson but one of the most valuable I’ve ever learned. Thanks everyone.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

what else is there

I met dozens of people every day in the two years I drove an airport shuttle. I still remember some passengers after 15 years. Some were that rude or that friendly. I often got asked how long I had lived on Maui to which I replied 10 or 11 years. The response was the same: ‘You must like it here.’
Well of course I liked living on Maui. I moved there in 1975 so I grew up there and the only time I spent away was college on Oahu. I really didn’t understand the mentality of picking up and moving.
The best thing about moving is that Prajna and I started dating when she helped me move. When I came back from college I lived in a bachelor pad near the beach with a couple other guys. The graveyard shift was tough and I really wanted a place of my own and when I found one Prajna and another friend helped me move. I think we did it in one trip. I had a couple boxes, a trunk and a computer. My furniture was no more than a bookshelf, a futon and a dresser and maybe a nightstand.
Prajna and had a place together when we were married. It was a cozy house in Haiku. Then we moved to a condominium in Kihei. When we went to Budapest Hungary it was like taking a trip. When we came home it was like moving. We had been there two years and had another child. We could take two bags per plane ticket and my sister came to visit and help us home. But we still packed and repacked and took more and more stuff out of boxes and suitcases. It took so long to load the airport shuttle van we almost missed the plane.
After a year back in Kihei we moved to Yucaipa. We hired movers for this but it was still stressful trying to sell our condo and get to California because Naomi had a bone marrow transplant and we had a deadline to meet.
We lived for 6 years in a house on Wildwood Canyon Road. Jamie and Nathaniel were born there. Then we moved to where we are now. The packing, the cleaning, the lifting, the anxiety and stress of moving caused Prajna to declare that we would never move again. I agreed. “You must like it here? Yeah that and I really don’t care for moving.
We are moving again in a few months.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

meaningful candy

On the way home from piano practice yesterday Harrison shared candy with me. If Jolly Rancher’s are not the best tasting candies of their kind I don’t want to taste what may be better at least while I’m driving lest I have an accident. They were chewy Jolly Ranchers so they didn’t last a long time like the original hard candies but they tasted the same. The first one he gave me was watermelon flavor which is my favorite. Cherry and grape are favorites too. I don’t know why anyone bothers making orange candy.
Before I left for work yesterday I said goodbye to Jamie and Nathaniel who each has a party favor bag they were sorting through. In addition to little noisemakers was candy. Prajna and I were remembering the other day when we were kids we got candy on special holidays and that was pretty much it. We do our best nowadays and the kids still have their teeth intact.
After saying goodbye to the boys I started walking up the driveway to my truck. Before I go to it Jamie came sprinting up barefoot on the hot pavement and gave me an orange sucker. There was such love in that gift that I kept it in my front pocket that afternoon and evening just to remember how happy he was to give it to me. When I ate it I thought that I must be doing something right in being a dad. Not because I got an orange lollypop but that I loved it as much as the Jolly Ranchers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

the 25 year paragraph

I thought maybe I would make it this time. But I usually think that until something happens that I either caused through my decisions or just decided to cause.
I mowed lawns for my dad’s church as a teenager. After that my first real job with real hours and a boss and a paycheck and all that was cleaning hotel windows for a janitorial company. That was 1985. I lasted two or three months there before being terminated. I wasn’t cleaning windows fast enough.
Over the next 25 years I’ve had about a dozen jobs. The longest I held one was almost four years. The shortest was one night. This may not seem like a good thing to post in cyberspace for everyone to see. When I came out and posted my conservative Christian points of view a few months ago I considered it risky but really just saying what I believe and braving the wrath of more liberal friends is nothing. Now I’ve just posted that I may not be the most employable person around. Truth or not, maybe I should keep this vilifying information to myself.
After Pacific Window Cleaning I worked at Pizza Hut Lahaina for nine months before quitting to go to college. In college I worked a switchboard and mailroom job. I worked at Jack-In-The-Box for two summers, a boy scout camp one summer and a different Pizza Hut my last summer of college. Then I went back to the Wahiawa Pizza Hut and drove after college until I left to live on Maui again. On Maui I was a telemarketer for a day and an Ihop cook for a night. And from 1991 to 1994 I worked at KNUI radio. I left that job when the graveyard shift became too difficult with a family. I drove airport shuttle vans for two years. Then I went to Budapest Hungary and taught English for two years. Coming back I worked a few day labor jobs until landing a bob as a substitute teacher. I drove the same airport vans over the summer but by the fall of 1999 my daughter Naomi was in and out of the hospital on Oahu. Our family left Maui for good and moved in with my parents in Yucaipa. From November of ’99 to May of 2000 I didn’t hold a job while Naomi had several hospitalizations, a bone marrow transplant and radiation. I got a job working at a placement facility for juvenile offenders and kept that until February of ’01. Then I transferred to the school onsite and taught special education. Naomi passed away in ’02. In April of ’03 I lost my teaching job because I had not done work enough to get my teaching credential. In July of ’03 I went to work for a Land surveying firm. I worked there until the economy and the housing market began to show serious signs of recession. I was let go in March of ’07. Six months later I went to work doing church facilities.
I’ve been there three years and have a week and three days left before starting my new job as a church custodian. My prayer is that I hold this job forever, but that was my prayer before too. So I will try to pray more that I stay obedient to God and do well where I am and follow his will. I have not always done that and have let lots of people down. In the last 25 years I hope I have at least learned how to humbly follow God.

Friday, September 24, 2010

breakout

My regular hours at my work are from 2 pm to 11 pm with an hour for lunch halfway through. I leave for work after lunch. I used to read to the youngest boys and put them down for a nap before showering and leaving but they don’t nap as much any more.
I get to work and check the schedule and then usually begin setting and cleaning rooms for evening events. My work phone may interrupt me and there may be boxes to move or paper towels to stock. By late afternoon I’ve got everything ready usually and I might do small cleaning jobs before I take a lunch break. There always seem to be leaf encrusted cobwebs clinging to the sides of buildings that I can sweet away.
I take an hour lunch. I may eat leftovers or a frozen dinner or once in a while go get something. I usually prop my feet up and read my book too.
In the evening I clean offices and restrooms and then get set what I can for the next day.
Some days my routine is completely destroyed by a large event. I don’t mind the disruption. For the most part I am in control of what I do at work. It’s a safe place. I work alone and listen to audio books. I enjoy being alone.
Yesterday I turned in my two week notice of resignation.
I was offered a similar position at my home church. I will have 40 hours but I don’t know the days or hours yet. They may be flexible.
I’m very happy about all the good in this. But there are things to be sad about too. Most of all I will miss co-workers. And of course the safety and predictability that I rely on is gone too. Permanent change in routine is not my favorite thing especially when it’s out of my control.
But in this economy I was sought out and offered a job. That’s exciting and humbling. God still has plans for me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

weather we like it or not

Although the weather is supposed to warm up considerably this weekend, this morning feels like summer is over and fall is hear to stay. The sky was is still a little overcast. When I got up a little after seven most of the cars on lines up on the road to Mesa View Middle school had their headlights on. The floor is cold and I’m thinking how on real winder mornings when it’s in the 30’s outside I have to remind all my children to wear socks to avoid chilblains.
I revealed in the last blog that I grew up in Lahaina, Hawaii. None of the homes there had air conditioning. Most homes had ceiling fans and stayed opened up all day and all year. The trade winds made the heat and humidity more bearable. The coldest you might feel other than Ooka Supermarket in Wailuku would be at Upcountry Maui and Haleakala. The leeward sides of the Island included Kihei and Lahaina and with the afternoon sun tended to be the warmest.
But the warmest and coolest it ever got was not as much as living near the bottom of a mountain on the edge of a desert in Southern California. But there are not great extremes here, only what we call seasons. In Hawaii we had summer heat and winter cool with rains. While most of our rain now is in the winter we also get occasional snow.
I am thankful that I live where I do and don’t get months of snow. I have always preferred warm weather to cold. Now winter is coming and now is when I’m trying to get up earlier to write. I need to make sure I have plenty of socks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

town mouse rides a bus

Prajna likes to kid me calling me a city boy. I suppose she can say that seeing as how she grew up in Kula, Maui which is always referred to as Upcountry Maui. She lived in the Keokea area at about four thousand feet above sea level. There are pastures, green rolling hills, cool weather and even occasional fog. Almost anything is a city compared to that. But I didn’t grow up in a city.
Lahaina was a resort town. When I moved there in 1975 I was eight years old and there was only one traffic light. There were ten on that side of the island when I left it in 1988.
One summer in 1984 my dad took me to Oahu for the weekend. I had been in big cities a lot before but never on my own until he dropped me off at the Bishop Museum. He gave me instructions on how to catch the city bus (called TheBus) to Ala Moana shopping center. When I was done at the museum I walked out and asked driver of the first bus I saw if he went to Ala Moana and he chuckled no. It was a tour bus. When I turned away I may have looked alarmed or he may have saw the Maui Youth Theatre writing on the back of my shirt but he called me back and drove me to the shopping center.
My shirt worked for me a few hours later when my friends Luana and Kalani spotted me. We were both surprised to see each other. One could say it’s a small world but really it’s a small state where at least back in 1984 no one was that much of a city folk.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

logophilia

This blog can often be jejune. Jejune means sophomoric or immature. My first blog ever here used the term: navel gazing. I got both these terms in my inbox. I subscribe to words of the day. I do have a fondness for word and phrases. When I learn a new word I use is as often as I can to the chagrin of others. Usually I taper off after a while or forget about it after a time.
On the same subject of words is this: Growing up I almost never got into fistfights. Most often I would talk my way out of something or use words to hurt. Once was I was in third grade and my sister was in kindergarten she came to my saying a boy was teasing her. So one teased my sister but me so I set off to find him and ended up with a few others following to see if there would be a fight. There wasn’t. I don’t remember what I said to the boy but I only talked to him quietly for a minute and he walked away crying.
Nowadays Prajna is urging me to go to the gym but I would rather stay home in the early morning and write. I will not deny that working out physically would reduce my weight and increase my durability. But my mind is more important to me so here I am sipping coffee slinging words. It’s what I do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

superfriends of today

When I watched old cartoons from the 40’s there was a common underlying theme. I even remember a parrot singing in one of them: “Leave well enough alone.” That’s even an underlying theme in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy promises to not stray away seeking adventure. So the mentality of American culture back then seemed to say be satisfied with what you have and don’t compromise your situation with unnecessary risks.
I’m sure that there were accepted exceptions to this belief. Young men and women took risks in war, space exploration, inventions, and business. But all of those bettered society.
Nowadays the message to the children seems to be: “You can do whatever you want to do.” The only restriction on this credo is ‘don’t hurt the environment’. Actually there is another restriction and that is don’t question the ‘no limits’ doctrine or you’re a hater.
I don’t know if I was around when this great shift in society took place but I have a good idea when it took place. It’s the way the world is now and we live in the world. I may continue to question the freedom being taught to young children in government schools and the cartoons aren’t what they used to be. But I know several young people who have run with this “Do whatever you want to do” belief. They are fighting for social justice and human rights. Not freedom from censure rights dressed as civil rights but serious causes like human trafficking and world hunger.
While it’s easy to despair for the world while watching reality TV one can have hope if they pray for the generation trying to make a good difference.

Monday, September 13, 2010

has anyone invented this word yet?

Listening to music is one of the most important things for me. I like it in the background when I’m at home. We usually keep on the local Christian Radio station or the oldies station.
I like it when I’m working but I usually only have one earpiece in when I listen to my MP3 player. In the past when I had both ears in and was deaf to the world someone was trying to call me and I didn’t hear the phone. Now I listen mostly to audio books at work. I do listen to music sometimes and try to tolerate not hearing the left stereo channel. When I’m vacuuming I put both ears in since I’m not going to hear anyway.
Having music in my vehicle while driving perhaps the biggest deal to me. I have dozens of CD’s in my truck and plan accordingly. There are all kinds of driving conditions and the music can match them. I made a mixed CD for my drive out to the desert two weeks ago. The blessing of living so close to work means that I can pick out something that will last most of the week.
If this has been a dull blog I apologize. (Maybe one could call a blah blog a blahg.) But I’ve been getting up an hour and a half earlier for a week now and have not begun any writing of short stories or novels. But if I sit ant the laptop and drink coffee I must keep the wheels turning or they will rust up. Truthfully they have rusted up and are very slowly squeaking back to life.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

this day in '01

On September 11th 2001 I woke up for work. Prajna was in Los Angeles with Naomi at Children’s Hospital LA. Naomi was hospitalized for an infection and had recently been not hearing anything very well. There turned out to be fluid in her ears so that day she was getting surgery to have tubes put in her ears. My parents came over to look after the three younger children while I went to work and they told me some planes had flown into the World Trade Center. We turned on the TV and I saw the footage of smoke coming out of one of the towers. To me it didn’t look too bad.
Driving to work I listened to the news on the radio. Just before I got to work one of the reporters live in New York said:
“Oh my God,” and I heard a roar in the background. When I got in to work a TV was on and one tower was gone. The next one fell soon after.
I was teaching at the time at a placement facility for juvenile offenders. They were more subdued that day and delighted when we canceled classes so they could watch the news. I think the most disturbing image that morning was people dancing in the streets of Palestine. Children were cheering into the camera. The boys asked me why the Arabs hated us. I explained about Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and that it was a turf war among other things. The school principal heard me explaining and later had me teaching a current events class.
I drove to Los Angeles the next day to be with Prajna for her birthday. The sky was blatantly empty of planes and it was disturbing. Naomi could hear again and Prajna was showing her six month pregnancy with Jamie.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

big wheel keeps turning

The first day of school for our family that involves classroom instruction. It is damp and overcast. This is the kind of morning that I think is best for staying in bed watching cartoons and eating cereal straight from the box. The problems with that notion are as follows:
There are no good cartoons on any day of the week any more at least with the broadcast TV that we have. If we had cable that would bring in a whole new plethora of distractions.
I can eat sugary breakfast cereal the way I used to. I begin to feel ill after a bit and the best thing to accompany it is beer and it’s been years and years since I had a beer in the morning.
Finally I have committed myself to being a responsible father. That means being the parent which means overcoming distractions in the way of homeschooling. If I sent the kids to government school they would all be up right now getting ready or on their way. Then I could plop down and watch The View or what Prajna really wants: go tot the gym.
I could even sit all morning and write my novel. That’s productive. But it’s also selfish. The time to write is before they get up which is now. I’m not authoring a novel right now, I’m blogging. But I’m writing and that to me is good enough for now because the wheels are turning and not rusting closed.
In a few minutes I will prompt Benjamin to start breakfast and get the big wheel of the day turning. That one is more like a carousel and never rusts up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer is done

School officially starts today for our family. Prajna made up a schedule for our homeschooling and Tuesdays have Piano which is part of it. Wednesday through Saturday is our classroom instruction. Tomorrow morning I will start math with the older children.
Harrison has been taking piano for several years now and plays with our church’s worship team. He is composing music and has two homemade CD’s produced. Sarah is starting piano today. Jamie wants to take piano but we are waiting a year for his maturity to develop.
I have never learned a musical instrument. I won’t count drums in 7th through 9th grade as I didn’t play the snare very well and mostly played the bass drum with took little instruction or musical ability. Musicians in the mainstream media make piano look easy and sometimes I wish I had learned to play anything. (Yes I do play harmonica but it’s self taught and not well.)
So I’m up early this morning. Early for me at least and the kids don’t need to be up for a little while still. With school starting up again I want to write again. I want to write more than just a blog. I want to get back into writing stories again. My two main options are to revise Icarus or begin a memoir about Naomi. Neither one sounds particularly appealing. But laziness is why I don’t play a musical instrument.

Friday, September 3, 2010

James Lee was my friend

On Wednesday September 1st James Lee entered a building belonging to the Discovery Channel Television Network. James had a radical environmentalist manifesto that railed against human population among other things. A hostage standoff ensued and James was eventually shot to death by police.
I grew up with James Lee. I knew him from the 3rd grade and graduated from Lahainaluna High School with him in 1985. When I met him in 3rd grade I first noticed his voice was always a little lazy sounding as if he was half asleep. He and I hung out sometimes though because we were both socially awkward and we both liked Star Wars. Over the years we were sometimes friends, sometimes not. He often gave me comic books that he didn’t want any more and thought I would like. He became very good at drawing comic book characters and I still have a picture of The Punisher that he drew for me. I remember another time however when a friend and I tried to convince him that he had a lover’s crush on First Daughter, Amy Carter. He became so frustrated that he was beside himself with rage. He pointed a finger to my friend and me and rasped that we would pay. He sounded like a supervillan, but it actually frightened us.
I remember walking home from school with James at least once or twice. We talked about the next Star Wars film coming out soon. Then we went to our separate homes. I never visited James’s home. In a letter he wrote to a federal judge in 2003 he described himself as a miserable loner who spent his childhood alone in his room. I think that is an accurate picture.
I haven’t seen James Lee for 25 years but in some ways he did not change. He was always socially awkward and seemed cynical and angry. After graduation I guess he continued a lonely life and it must have really hurt. I won’t pretend to understand his motivation for a manifesto so hateful against human population. But the James Lee I knew wasn’t passionate about the environment; he just didn’t care for people.
I am shocked and sad by this event. It seems completely senseless and has nothing to edify me or anything I can write here. I am only sad that he is gone and in many ways was never here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

crumbling mofifs

When I was learning to drive on Maui there were only two sections of road where the speed limit went up to 55 miles per hour. I few years later there was only one. The Kuihelani Highway was probably the longest stretch of uninterrupted road on the island that I remember. Moving to the U.S. mainland in 1999 gave me a look at not only vast expanses of land but the straightest roads I had ever seen in my life.
I have always loved roads. This may have come from my childhood love of cars. I still remember watching a paving machine lay down new blacktop. I may have been 5 or six years old. It was the coolest thing in the world to see this huge truck lumbering along pouring out road. A day later I felt it and it was still soft.
I could get all poetic and say how that in the same way there is really one ocean there is really only one road. The pavement out in front of my house connects with 7th street and then interstate 10 which goes from Santa Monica to Jacksonville Florida. It’s all connected. (Except for cattle guards and drawbridges.)
Roads are something of a motif in my blogging and even writing. They symbolize life. Roadwalker is the handle I’ve used for a while and Roadwalker media is my idea of my own filmmaking production.
So walking on a road is the same as moving through life. On Maui the roads were curvy and you couldn’t pass snowbird tourists. Three days ago I was headed west on I-40 between Ludlow and Barstow. Some cars were going 90 mph. My little truck worked best at about 75. If I needed to pass a big rig I turned off the AC.
Mixed up somewhere in this is a whole metaphor for my life. I would explore it my my daughter Sarah is putting breakfast on the table.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

love in the hand



I completed a movie and posted it on YouTube of my Desert getaway. I put Spaghetti Western Music behind it. My first version, however, had the theme music from Mad Max beyond Thunderdome. Tina Turner sings savage lyrics along with a war drums. But I changed it. I dressed very practically for the desert in light colored loose clothing. Like last year I had to overcome the desire to wear my long black coat, black clothes and of course my heavy leather boots. Maybe it’s a sign of maturity that I’m being realistic.
One thing I did take along was a Hot Wheels Car. Nathaniel seemed concerned about me and just as I was leaving he stuck himself out through the hole in the screen of his bedroom window. He offered me three of his Hot Wheels Cars. I didn’t know why at the time but he wanted me to be able to play with it if I got bored. It didn’t matter that I had book seven of the Dark Tower or that I can sit in a camp chair and stare at mountains for a long time and not be bored. It this case it really was the thought that moved me. I choose a red 1969 Dodge Coronet.
That night it got pretty creepy and lonely. Even with the moon it was very dark. The wind blew over the rocks and ground creating a discontinent uneasiness. I drifted off to sleep in the tent only to have the wind flap the tent and wake me up.
I had emptied my pockets and taken off my belt with my phone and knife and tools but I still felt something in my front pocket. There next to my lip balm was the car from Nathaniel. I turned over in my sleeping bag and held the car in my right hand.
‘What a loving gesture’, I thought.
And the night grew just a little less lonely.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Travel Log

Sabbatical can be defined as a break or change from a normal routine. The term is usually assumed for a term longer than a weekend but I have come to use it to describe my gettings away that I described last week. I got the idea from Larry Niven’s character of Louis Wu. When he tired of human company, he took a vacation or "sabbatical" for several months or more, exploring alone in his starship beyond the fringes of Known Space.
Sunday I left home and look the I-15 to Zzyzx. Zzyzx has been a mineral spa, evaporate mine and is now used by CSU for desert studies. I went to Baker for lunch and then drove into the Mohave Preserve. The weather was cool enough to drive with the windows down and I had made a CD for the drive with lots of Spaghetti Western Music. I visited the Kelso Rail Depot. Then I drove deeper into the park over paved roads and washboard dirt roads to the campsite I had picked out. It was about 4 in the afternoon by then and I had my priorities to consider. I started a kettle of water for coffee. The campsite had a fire ring and I regretted somewhat planning to have no campfire. Prajna recently got a very nice Coleman stove. I pitched my tent and sipped coffee and listened to my tinnitus.
I had canned beef stew for supper and watched the sunset over a nearby hill. It began to get even cooler by then. I lit my lamp and sat down and read my book for several hours. I occasionally got up to check the stars. Although I think I could see the lights of Las Vegas glowing over 100 miles away the sky was unspoiled by any light pollution. The Milky Way arched overhead. It was cold and dark and windy. My tent buckled o few times under the wind until I fastened a few bungee cords to it. When the moon came up the wind died down a bit. I turned in about 11 and slept fitfully with the wind flapping the tent once in a while waking me up.
I thought I would sleep in the next morning. But I woke up before dawn and decided to watch the sunrise. I boiled water and added my Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew. I got some good pictures of the sunrise.
I took my time cooking breakfast and cleaning up. The day began to warm up but AI was still comfortable driving with my windows down listening to Hawaiian Music. I went to the Kelso Dunes. I hiked for about 15 minutes toward the high dunes but I didn’t feel prepared to spend 90 minutes hiking up a high sandy slope so I headed back.
I left the park and took the I-40 to Barstow. I had never been on this freeway and the vast emptiness was exhilarating. In Barstow I had In-N-Out and then got back on the I-15 for San Bernardino and then home.
My goal was accomplished. The solitude was refreshing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

a thirst not for water

I never got island fever living on Maui. Maybe growing up there prevented me it. After moving to Southern California and driving up in the San Bernardino National Forrest I realized that if I ever went back to Maui I would grow anxious with little places to travel.
In 2003 I drove solo up to Santa Cruz for a writer’s conference. It was my first and biggest sabbatical in years. A few years later I went camping at Joshua Tree. I set up at Hidden Valley and spent the evening reading a book by lantern light.
For most of my life I’ve been fascinated by the desert. It is not the heat or the wildlife or flora. It’s the vast emptiness and apparent desolation. Death Valley in particular enthralled me to the point that I wrote stories about it as a kid with secret science fiction bases hidden there.
So last year I went to Death Valley. I loved my weekend away there from the road trip there and back. I camped at Mahogany Flats at about 8 thousand feet above sea level. The highlight may have been seeing the stars that night.
This weekend I still plan to go out to the Mojave National Preserve. I may camp out on the desert floor if it’s cool enough or 5 thousand something feet at Hole in the Wall. It’s another road trip out there and another sabbatical for me to slake my desire for solitude.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Will be worthy to rise and with the Valkyries fly

The top of Haleakala was always cold and often windy. I learned to dress appropriately including keeping my ears covered. Hosmer’s Grove was where the campgrounds were at about the 700 foot level. It was cold here too at least in the morning and by the standards of someone who lived at sea level.
In the trunk of my Mustang I carried a pizza box with charcoal and newspaper. It was an instant fire. I would come down after watching the sunrise and cook myself breakfast each time. One sunny morning I was getting my cooking gear out when a man came up to me and implored me in very broken English that I didn’t need to light my own ire and that I was welcome to use theirs.
I thanked them and moved my car up to his location. He was in a group of about six or so and I heard them speaking German to each other. I nodded in thanks to them as they were gathering up their stuff and I got out my stuff. Then I heard a chuckle. I had just gotten out my portable tape deck and set it on the roof of my American car. It had race car stickers on it and I could imagine their amusement. I figured they were saying to look at the American Teenager with his radio where he will now play Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen songs.
So I reached in my car and pulled out one of my favorite tapes. I knew if was cued to the beginning when I popped it in and pressed play. When the music started I continued to prepare my breakfast. But there was a start from my observers. I noticed their surprise and enjoyed music and the moment.
The group kept packing up their stuff but eventually a woman broke off and came up to me. She pointed to my radio.
“Wagner,” she declared.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Wagner.”
Ride of the Valkeries played on. She gave me an approving look and we both went on our day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunrise at the House of the Sun

There was a period of a year between my high school graduation and my first year of college that I called a moratorium. I worked at Lahaina Pizza Hut and drove my Mustang. This is when I learned that I liked to take sabbaticals.
I would leave my home in Lahaina at about midnight and gas up at the Minute Stop in Kahului. Before I resumed my drive I would deliberately look up at the top of Haleakala. The lights of the upcountry communities ended about halfway up. The ten thousand foot mountain was visible as a wall of earth even in the dark of night.
I would usually listen to the Chess soundtrack driving up. The air turned cold and the road would be dark. Sometimes there was fog and once I rounded a hairpin turn to have a cow standing in the road.
I would get to the top of the mountain before three in the morning and nap. I would wake up and hour or so later to the sound of rent-a-cars laboring their way up. Getting up and looking down the mountain I would see what appeared to be a hundred eyed snake on its way up the mountain as tourists, downhill bike vans and tour buses vied their way for a space at the top of the mountain.
I would bundle up with an old army coat and a genuine Arabic headdress my aunt brought me and sit in my usual spot outside the observatory building at the crater summit. The sky would begin to brighten. Tourists, dressed for the Hawaiian tropical climate would shiver and urge the sun to hurry up. (I’m not making this up; someone did it every time.) And the air stayed cold.
The clouds to the east would begin to glow and a brilliant light would trace their tops. Hundreds of people all stood or sat facing east. And then the sun came up. As often as I did this I never go tired of it.
I would drive down to the campgrounds at Hosmer’s Grove at about the seven thousand foot level and cook my breakfast. I always carried a pizza box in the trunk of my car with charcoal and newspaper for an instant fire. One time I didn’t end up needed it and I’ll blog that tomorrow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

hard lessons

Our church in Lahaina had a bazaar once a year. They sold plants and rummage and plate lunches. One year when I was still pretty young I went around selling tickets to a scouting event as a fundraiser. I had the tickets and cash all in an envelope and went only to people I knew and asked if they wanted to buy Scout-O-Rama tickets. I did well. My mom taught at the local preschool and I saw her boss, the director of the preschool. She knew me and her daughter baby sat my sister and I at least once.
Yes she would buy a ticket from me. Then she also asked for me to change her five dollar bill. Later on I realized that I was short five dollars. And then years later I learned about an easy little scam that someone can pull by asking for change during a transaction. My mom’s boss had stolen money from me when I was selling Cub Scout fundraiser tickets.
I don’t think I was ever shocked at this because it was perhaps ten years later when I was a cashier for the summer at Jack-In-The-Box that I was warned against the scam. But I hadn’t forgotten the incident even ten years later. Minutes after the transaction when I discovered I was 5 dollars short I suspected that Mrs. M- had done that but I didn’t want to believe it. I had no problem believing it ten years later because I had grown some and learned more about human nature.
Not all learning is pleasant.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

my first dollar

I still have a lot of my old Matchbox and Hot Wheels Cars. I contribute a few to the family every now and then. I still have a Cadillac Ambulance that was one of my favorites. I remember racing it on the track my cousin gave me. I don’t have the track any more. The track was made up of several connectable parts of orange racetrack with curved pieces and even a loop. The cars were launched through a pseudo-garage that actually had two rotating wheels. The wheels flung the car outward with enough force to return.
Watching PBS one day an announcement came on between Sesame Street and The Electric Company. The local announcer warned that these shows along with Mister Rogers may be discontinued due to lack of funding. I had to ask what it meant. My friend told me that my favorite TV shows needed money or they would be stopped.
I loved television. Aside from Adam 12 all I watched was public television. I thought that Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and the CTW shows being canceled would be an atrocity.
So I sold my track for a dollar to my friend Chuckie. When the time came to make the exchange I felt a little guilty about taking my buddy’s dollar but we went through with it. Back then a dollar would buy ten bags of M&Ms. I gave the dollar to my parents and they sent it to KHET channel 8, Phoenix. My mom was so impressed that she wanted to include a note that I had sold my toys to send them money. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I had succumbed to emotional blackmail. And the shows stayed on.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Be prepared

If my past blogs have painted an abysmal picture of abject misery I may have exaggerated. It is true I had very few friends and did poorly in most classes. But I made do with what I had and by my 8th grade year was pretty active in boy scouts. I had been a cub scout for several years but shied away from boy scouts when I saw the big rowdy guys at the meetings.
When I rejoined up with the boy scouts in my 8th grade year there were just a handful of boys about my age. We didn’t work hard on earning badges or rank. We hiked and camped. Our first campout was at the beach after a seven mile hike. We got to the campsite with and our scoutmaster was there with his tent and truck and music playing. But then he didn’t cook our meals. We had to do that. We had to build and light our own fires. We had to set our own tents up. Mine blew over in the middle of the night.
This first campout with Troop 26 was a deliberate wake up call to us that we were no longer in the cub scouts where our needs are catered to. Our scoutmaster began to teach us in earnest after that.
A year later we would arrive at a campsite and set our stuff up. We would cook dinner open fire we made ourselves. Once we shared a campsite with another troop and watched incredulously as their scoutmaster arrived early and set the tents up cooked their meals while they played and drove the boys home before returning to break camp. We weren’t jealous, we felt pity for them.
In my junior year of high school my scoutmaster had to ask me to repeat that I was attending a Thespian conference instead of a troop meeting. I drifted away from scouts to the theatre after that. But I can still build a decent campfire thanks to him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

joining the ends

Typical of middle schools, there was a solid hierarchy at mine. At the top was the most popular girl and her gang.
She and her gang had matching sweatshirts. She was president of the student body but more the typical ‘bad girl’ than ‘smart girl’. I was at the other end of the ladder. I didn’t have a gang. But I hung out with a few other kids with little or no social skills. We were an unathletic, comic book reading collective awkwardness. In between us and the popular girls were the skaters and surfers, the brains, the athletes and the tough guys. And then came the banquet at the end of our 8th grade year.
I don’t know what the original idea was for the banquet and how much say the teachers had. But we ended up drawing names to see who our date was. Late one day in math class our teacher held a paper bag and the guys drew names. There were more boys than girls so some of them would go stag. Several of the tough boys drew stag. At my turn I drew a name. It was her. I handed the most coveted name to the teacher and took my seat and quietly said her name. The class erupted in shouts. I was told she cried when she found out.
The banquet went okay. I had heard couples were supposed to have one dance together but that didn’t happen. What was interesting was that all my friends drew the names of this girl gang so we all sat at the same table.
In high school the girl stayed popular but grew away from the megastardom. At our 10 year class reunion she and her gang all joined me in singing “Love Shack’ for karaoke.
The last time I saw her I was substitute teaching at a new school and she was a full time teacher at the school. We both seemed to recover from middle school nicely.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

no qualms at all

I didn’t know how rotten my middle school years were until my school life started improving. In the 7th grade we had PE. The athletic boys were treated well by the teacher while the handful of unathletic boys were sent to play ball with the girls. The only instruction I ever got was when we had a substitute teacher who had us all play together. He told me how to hold a baseball bat and I hit the ball for the first time.
English was one of my worst subjects because I couldn’t spell and never got the hand of writing cursive which was mandatory. I was never good at math. The subject I did like was science.
Lahaina Intermediate School had a soda machine in the office that kids could use. For 30 cents you could buy a 12 ounce Coke or Dr. Pepper or other sugary drink in a tin can. I think by my 8th grade year the bottling companies all over switched to aluminum. We sipped our drinks during recess and looked down on the town of Lahaina from a thousand feet up. Once we saw a whale out in the ocean. Some days I would walk home from school. I arrived home almost the same time as the bus.
I managed to get through those tough years with the few close friends I had. I would be friends with the new kid until they left after a short time or they move up to more popular friends. My friend, Alan was one exception. I also survived by convincing myself that I really didn’t belong there because I was an alien and my people would be around to fetch me home at any time. It never happened and here I still am. I made it through government school in the 7th and 8th grades. I have no qualms about saving my kids from that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

abysmal harangues

Prajna and I ordered a pretty large package from Sonlight Curriculum yesterday. This coming year we’re going to be spending more hours homeschooling that we ever have before. Part of Homeschooling is learning as we go along. Some years we’ve done more, some less. Prajna tried to do a lot one year but I was working days and never participated in it.
This new school year is going to be a bit of a shock for the kids. I think that Harrison understands the importance because he’s getting close to the age where a lot of his peers are getting ready to complete high school. But the next two kids down may have difficulty adjusting to so much work.
I wish I could tell them how abysmal government schools are. But I would hate to hear the cliché sound of an old dad talking about having to be ready for the school bus at 7:00 in the morning. Waiting with a bunch of unsupervised big kids cussing at each other only to ride a wheezing gear grinding vehicle over town to pick up a bunch more of the same. After disembarking at the intermediate school we waited another 30 to 40 minutes for the bus to bring the next trip up before school began.
There’s too much to harangue and I don’t want to just weep over what a miserable school life I had. A lot of the teachers did the best that they could and loved their jobs.
We homeschool because we love our kids regardless of the condition of government schools. It’s not about making up for miserable childhood. It’s about experiencing a joyful childhood today and building a strong future for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

rusty wheels

Prajna and Harrison were gone for two weeks. They have been back for almost a week and today was Prajna’s first day back at work. With the major summer event over and done it’s time to think about starting up school again.
Two mornings a week the kids clean the house. One morning a week there is piano lessons for Harrison and now Sarah. I want to move chores to the afternoon to make time for schooling. I have math and spelling that I want to do every day for the three oldest. I would like to do more than just those two subjects but there are so many hours in a day. Recently I was stressing that my children may not learn what the Magna Charta was all about. So much to teach. But we have civics discussions lots of lunchtimes. Benjamin asked me about nuclear power and radiation the other evening. I had done research for Icarus and was able to tell him a lot. I think that’s a lot of what Homeschooling is about.
And on that subject of my writing I have dreadfully neglected my blog. The worst part is no one noticed or at least mentioned it. But I don’t write this for attention. This is to keep the wheels turning. I resolved to write every day. Hopefully soon it won’t be just blogging but getting back into a novel. Well there’s rust falling and the sound of metal on metal as the wheel starts again. I better go get my coffee.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

good day being a dad


Prajna and Harrison are in Indonesia on a mission outreach and Benjamin and Sarah are in Mammoth with friends for the weekend. That left me Jamie and Nathaniel. Sunday night we got pizza and watched Aladdin and Herbie Rides again. They had never seen Aladdin before and Herbie Rides again was my favorite movie as a kid until I saw Star Wars in 1977. We ate the pizza and Oreo cookies and other snacks in the living room watching the first movie and then watched the second movie in my bedroom and ate Reeses Pieces.
The next day we packed a lunch and left for Big Bear. It was about and hour drive up the mountain. We ate our picnic lunch by the lake. There was a cook breeze and the boys enjoyed watching the jet skis out on the water. After lunch we went to the Moonridge Animal Park. There are animals indigenous to the area there. Most have been rescued and cannot return to the wild. We saw grizzly bears, cougars, timber wolves and other animals. The boy’s favorite was probably a barn animal who seemed to hang his head and shake it incredulously at the lack of coolness in humans.
After the zoo we walked around The Village in Big Bear and looked into some of the tourist traps. I grew up in a resort town and felt at home there. We had supper at Jack in the Box and then I took the long way home.
We stopped by the lake on the way out where I spotted a port-a-potty for Nathaniel. Then I spotted flat rocks ideal for skipping and did one of my favorite things to do and at the same time was able to impress my young sons. I skipped several rocks for them. That may have been the best part of my day.
We drove out on what is called the Rim of the World Highway. There are drops on both sides for a while and you can see south down into the San Bernardino area from 7000 feet up. There was a layer of haze thick enough to make more distant mountain tops appear like islands.
The boys were good all day and thanked me at the end. In turn I thanked my heavenly father at the end of the day for one of the nicest days I’ve had.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Mission Outreach

Tomorrow night Prajna and Harrison leave home on their mission outreach. They will leave Los Angeles at 1:50 in the morning and arrive in Taipei after a 13 ½ hour flight. Then they fly to Jakarta and stay in a hotel for a half a day. Finally they island hop to their final destination, Jayapura, Indonesia. Jayapura is the capital of Papua on the island of New Guinea.
Yes, of course I’m concerned for them. Even though the drive to Los Angeles is more dangerous than the flight, my wife and oldest son are going to be on the other side of the world. Indonesia has earthquakes and radical Islam. But I’m not overly concerned that way either. I guess I’m just sad that they will miss me and the rest of the family as must as we miss them. I won’t be able to rub Prajna’s feet if they’re sore. That’s where I’m most concerned.
Your prayers and support have been integral in these past weeks. We will continue to need them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Foxie Faux

I am leaving tomorrow for a Faux Family reunion. It was about 19 years ago that the patriarch of the family passed away. I will always regret that he didn’t live to know he had a great grandson named after his father.
My grandpa had false teeth and could rattle them while still in his mouth. Then he would stick the upper plate out for cartoonish buck teeth and bow back and forth. (I didn’t know he was doing an impolite Chinaman.)
Everyone called my grandpa Foxie. He had fox figurines all over his living room along with a mantle clock and candy jars.
One sweltering Phoenix summer Grandpa took my sister and me to the dime store behind his house to buy water pistols. When mine didn’t work he took me back to the store with it and told the young ladies at the counter we needed a new one.
Taking merchandise in and out of a store was an unspeakable crime to me. And there we were with the old water gun pouring the water into new ones and testing them out.
As we did that I hoped my grandpa would not make a scene and refuse to pay. But when he was satisfied with a new water pistol we put the faulty one back on the shelf and headed out. I held my breath as we passed the counter.
“Here’s one for the same price,” my grandpa said.
“Okay, Foxie,” came the reply.
Of course they knew him. I should never have forgotten who my grandpa was. And I’ve tried not to since.