Sunday, August 30, 2009


The sky is impossibly blue, the trees are a million shades of green and the water is clear and...... cold? Something happened to August; it turned into late September. For two weekends now the mercury (okay, the digital read-out) has barely topped 80 degrees. Today was a downright chilly 72. But as wrong as it feels, I'm loving it.

Sleeping with a breeze through the windows, the night full of crickets, it's like a different world. My dreams are filled with nature. I awake expecting to be staring up at the moon from a sleeping bag, but it's only the streetlight seeping through a crack in the blinds. Then I drift away again, to the river, the garden or to a desert I've never seen. Morning comes fresh, dew is thick. Mist rises slowly from the river valley. I want to revel in the cool and drink coffee while I warm myself in the sun. A day like this is inspiring. It begs to be painted. It cries for my company. What a shame to waste such rare and glorious days on work.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Job 12:7-9

Ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
Or speak to the Earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Creator has done this?

While I attend church regularly, I am not so much religious as I am spiritual. Doctrine is often a deal breaker for me. I like Woody Guthrie's take on it. Once, upon checking into a hospital, he was asked, "Your religion?" "All of them." he answered.

There are beliefs I hold from many different religions. Christian, Catholic (their very own brand of Christianity), Native American, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, aspects of each of these creep into my personal spirituality. Teachings and text from all can be thought provoking, inspirational and moving. But sometimes I run across a verse that is particularly relevant to my heart; one that speaks to my soul. Job 12:7-9 is one of these. When I am outdoors, surrounded by nature, I am certain that there is a higher power. It makes me sing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Funeral for a friend

"That is goin' on my funeral list." Not that I really want a traditional funeral, but I do keep a list of songs that I'd like played on the day that my ashes catch the breeze. It's been going on ever since I was in high school; the list evolves and changes as new songs capture my imagination. Most of my friends think this is macabre. They are correct, as the technical definition of the word is, "having death as a subject : comprising or including a personalized representation of death." This does not necessarily mean it is depressing, though it can be if you believe it to be. There is something uplifting and comforting in the sad beauty of a haunting melody. Something that I've always wanted to share.

Just a few:
Mark's Song - Eastmountainsouth
On & On & On - Wilco
For A Dancer - Jackson Browne
Keep Me In Your Heart For A While - Warren Zevon
Birds - Neil Young
Give Me Love - George Harrison
Something For The Pain - Pierce Pettis
The Last Nail - Dan Fogelberg

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Serendipity via Thousand Oaks Winery

Serendipity is one of my favorite things. When good things happen out of the blue it's like the creator is handing you a special gift. So it was as we meandered down highway 51.

It had already been a memorable weekend, celebrating a friend's birthday with an exquisite meal and music and detouring off the main drag to find amazing BBQ in an unlikely Missouri town. Then after taking a left and heading northward toward home, I spied the sign. Thousand Oaks Winery. "Winery!" I shrieked. "Where?" the hubs asked, suddenly paying attention. "Right there." I pointed at the drive, having made a U-turn. We crunched over the gravel road through the forest, wondering what might await us; then we emerged from the woods into an Ozark oasis. Lake, huge patio, shady umbrellas, and as we turned the corner, an outdoor brick oven for making pizza and bread the old world way. The owner was feeding the fire. He greeted us warmly, and took us inside to taste. The wines were good, the reds will be even better with more bottle aging, and some made its way home with us. Even more impressive was the experience. The folks at Thousand Oaks are knowledgeable, neighborly and gracious. Besides a conversationally paced tasting, they took the time to show us the operation, the new wines, and the view. We talked about their upcoming music and events and my guess is that we'll be back to enjoy one.

These are the joys of the road less traveled, of life lived a little bit slower, of the beautiful serendipitous gifts given to us if we open our eyes and hearts and minds. And for these, I am eternally thankful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dan

This time last year I was in Peoria, making friends, watching the river, singing The Reach with unexpected harmony and surprisingly good red wine. This year on Dan Fogelberg's birthday, I'll be at work, listening to his posthumous release, "Love In Time" on my lunch break.

Most people don't understand why I still cherish Dan's music. Maybe they get why I'm into Neil Young, the Beatles, the Eagles, Poco, Jackson Browne, Son Volt, Wilco or the Jayhawks. Chances are they have never heard of John Gorka, Pierce Pettis, Michael Fracasso, Peter Bradly Adams or Richard Shindell. There's a golden thread that runs through the whole lot, it's honesty, pain, harmony and heart. It's love unrequited and lost; it's stories of darkness and light, of nature and spirit, of hope against hope and love again found. It's the way the songs make you feel, what they bring out of your soul. Not everyone will understand, but for the few who do:

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

We are not meant to be alone.
Even though I crave it for my mind,
even when I need it for my sanity,
even when quiet is all
that will quell the storm,
my heart knows when to return.
Standing together, twin forest trees,
history like roots intertwined.
A simple touch, a stolen glance,
a sentence that doesn't need finishing;
there is a comfort in sharing,
a gift in laughter.
Solitude loses its definition
without comparison.
No, we are not meant to always be alone.