Friday, October 28, 2011

Dreaded Dad-Daughter Talk

               It’s way past due, eleven years actually.  But, this dad has always avoided uncomfortable situations. Got to buck up and have a word with my girl before she moves 200 miles away.  Nobody wants to talk about it, nobody wants it to happen to them.  Okay sweetie, here goes.  We need to talk about flat tires.
               Get your owner’s annual out and find where your spare tire is stored.  Okay, let’s do it.  These cold, rainy days are about par for the course, but be thankful I am teaching you in the driveway instead of some dark highway in the middle of nowhere.  According to your owner’s manual, the spare should be under your hiking boots, stilettos, party dress and camping gear.  Ah, there it is.  Pull it out along with the lug nut wrench and jack.  Yes, they named lug nuts after me.  I am a big lug and nuts as you know.  It’s better than Jack don’t you think?  At least I’m not a description for poop! 
               Alright, these are lug nuts.  Use the wrench to loosen them evenly, a little with each one.  Let’s put the jack here now that the nuts are loose.  It’s going to take a little muscle to raise the car high enough to put the inflated tire on.  You’ve got the flat off the ground now, so let’s finish taking it off.  Be careful to save the nuts.  Now raise the jack a little higher so the good tire will slide onto the threaded bolts.  I know it’s rainy and miserable out here, but what are you going to do in farmland, look for warmth with cows?  You are a city girl.  Focus now.  Screw the lug nuts evenly hand tight and then tug them tighter with the wrench.  Yes, the righty-tighty maneuver.  Unwind the jack until the tire is firmly on the ground.  Tighten the lug nuts again with the wrench with all your might.  I know you’re cold and wet and miserable.  That’s what changing a tire is all about.  Just get dirtier and put the flat in your trunk with the jack and wrench.  By the way, did I mention the wrench might be a good weapon if any wild animals, human or otherwise, cross your path.  Your next move will be to a tire store.  Never drive far without a spare tire.  Yes, you can go inside now where it’s nice and warm.  Glad we had this talk.
               Alone, I realize she will most likely use her magic phone for a refresher course online instead of calling me.        

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trick Or Treat

Halloween looms although the stores started putting displays up right after Easter.  Still think it’s a dentist conspiracy.  And why do people get so uptight about witches and goblins?  And what does the Easter bunny have do with anything?  People forget the purpose of holidays and like sheep are turned into marketing fodder.  Buy candy and gifts, gun powder and turkeys, flowers, cards and party hats.  Tradition is good, but we have lost an innocence of simple trick or treating, sitting on Santa’s lap, the birth of our country that proclaims peace, but has been in some kind of war most of my life and celebrates by blowing up neighborhoods every Independence day.
As for Halloween, I am a victim of sweets.  The treats intended for the kids get gobbled before the 31st and last minute replacements must be purchased.  We used to get a couple hundred costumed revelers filling their buckets and pillow cases.  Families in the area matured just like mine and volume faded.  Last year, there was a resurgence of costumes at the door.  Protective parents often escort their kids now.  It wasn’t like that when I was young.  It was a night to frolic the streets freely.  My sack was so full it’s a miracle I still have a tooth.  Around here the doorbell rings for a couple hours irritating the dog each time and then there is silence.
My kids used to love carving pumpkins and putting on costumes.  Without fail, they were sick each and every Halloween, but they braved the elements and did their rounds.  When they got back to the house, they sat on the living room floor trading candy after their big night out.  Older now, they have lost the enthusiasm they once had. 
Must have been twenty years ago since I’ve been to a Halloween party.  I went as a dickhead.  My friend did too.  He wore a hard hat with various pictures of Richards.  Mine was made of a woman’s nylon filled with batting, sewn on one end just so with blue Sharpie veins and worn on my skull.  It was a good two feet tall and I had to duck through doorways.  Of course, I won best costume that year.
  The point is holidays are supposed to be fun.  We get all grown up and forget what it was like to be young.  Let’s allow the little ones to collect some magic memories.  Your dentist will scold you to your face and smile privately in the office counting your money.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Perhaps the concept conjures mental images of children dying of starvation in African villages.  It is sad to realize the hunger for power, money and fame is more important than human life.  And the children die and we export death instead of love.  How did we get to this place?  What will it take to end the cycle of hate, fear and war?
We all have had dreams and hungered to make them come true.  Life too often beats us down and our dreams go into a coma.  We quit searching for solutions to reach for them.  We settle for what we have.  Then one day, the embers are somehow reignited and we suddenly awaken famished.  I am discovering I am not alone wanting to feed my dreams.
I hunger to love and be loved.  Uncovering others dormant dreams feeds mine.  Attitude is everything.  Everyone likes happy, too many choose sad.  You receive what you project.  I am on a mission to feed my happy dreams and spread love wherever I can.  Let’s keep our dreams alive by nurturing them instead of starving and burying them.  Join me and together we can end world hunger in all its ugly forms.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Scavenger Hunt

                   Life is a scavenger hunt without a list.  We don’t even know what we’re looking for, but we search and learn and collect experiences.  When we figure out what we don’t want, we begin to narrow down what we do.  But, sometimes we still can’t quite pinpoint it and even when it becomes clear, it feels unattainable.  Perhaps we discover happiness, but it can be short-lived.  With effort, we try to recreate it with the same old, jigsaw pieces.  It is never as rewarding as the first time we made the discovery,  but we are happy and grateful.  We hang onto things that used to make us feel good and go on searching for more.  All the while, certain routines are developed and we leave unfilled voids dormant.  Like a cemetery, we bury our desires, our dreams and settle for what we have.
               We forget to keep hunting, searching, looking for the things that make us feel alive.  Small children live in wonderment, they have so much to teach us about life.  Young adults juggle school, work and social lives.  Somehow as we age, we seem to allow the tsunami to take us where it will instead of being the tidal wave we used to be.
               I am on a journey with some very special, talented people.  We are learning together to search for answers.  No more settling for the status quo because there is more to life.  I am hunting like a scavenger again for that which makes me whole.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Today would have been my dad's 90th birthday.  A farm boy, he literally flew the coop to go to college and serve in the Army-Air Force during WWII.  He decided teaching would help bring peace in the world and never returned to farming.  He was a noble man.  That made me Mr. Stenson's kid growing up.  With one wing and half a brain, I tried to fly away right after high school too.  My parents kicked me right back in their nest until I finished college.  By then, I had two working wings.
            Now it's my children's turn to soar.  One will be getting married next summer.  Her and her husband-to-be have been together for ten years  and they are only 24 years old.  When I got married I was younger and didn't know my wife for ten months before my wedding day.  My other kid is moving 180 miles away in a month.  She has been breaking glass ceilings in the corporate world for a number of years.  As a dad, the realization that neither will probably ever live in my nest again is unsettling sad.  I have loved them here with me for so long, but they are ready to spread their wings and I must let them fly.
            I have been quiet here for the past ten days because I flew in another direction.  My favorite musician came to town and I went to see him perform twice last weekend.  I have been to countless shows and always have high expectations.  Have you ever gone to a movie after hearing rave reviews and it leaves you flat after you've seen it?  This musician has never failed to exceed my highest hopes no matter how pumped up I get about it.  Believe me, I was flying both Saturday and Sunday.  A week later, I am just now preparing to land.
            Happy birthday, Dad.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

That Hurt

               When I was young, I was what my parents wanted me to be.  They decided I should learn to play the clarinet.  I made noise with all my grade school classmates in band class.  My grandfather was a professional musician and gave up on my tone quality saying it was contaminating his ear drums.  Folks should have bought me a guitar. 
               As a young adult, I decided to be who I thought I wanted to be.  I rose fast as a restaurant employee in the kitchen, from dishwasher to head cook.  This was an upscale dinner house and I cooked a hundred meals an hour every night.  Made it clear to the bosses I wanted to learn to bartend, but they never gave me the chance. 
               In my thirties, I became what everyone else expected me to be, a good father, provider, protector of the fort.  When I had some spare time, I took up painting with water color.  I got a primitive set-up, nothing fancy.  Sat on the hill in my backyard and painted my sanctuary.  The green grass, the house with all the shadows of the siding, the shake roof, my new deck came out fantastic for the brushes I had.  I painted the sky and treetops I could see in the front yard above the roof’s peak.  I was a bit disappointed with the angle I had of the hot tub, but other than that, I had captured the essence.  A sister-in-law saw my painting and innocently asked if one of my small children had painted it. 
               Now in my fifties, I am becoming who I was meant to be, a creative soul.  Getting too old to play stupid games with people and their rules.  I am learning to speak my mind and let my imagination soar.  I don’t need to blow through a woodwind to make a quality tone, don’t need to be a bartender to come up with stories, I can paint pictures with words my sister-in-law can’t even pronounce.  Foolishly, I shared a story recently with what I thought was an open minded friend.  Offended, they didn’t even bother reading it all.  It was meant to be read for what it was, creative writing.  My feelings were bruised by the response and I will recover, not sure our friendship will and that hurts.
               We all know what sticks and stones can do.  Take care, there are actions and words that hurt too.