More Doing, less watching

•February 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It has been far too long since I wrote here last.  And far too many years spent not enjoying something I claim to like as a pass time; reading.

So, with a notification yesterday from MLB TV of how my subscription would renew soon, I found myself at a bit of a fork in the road.  While it was geeky-cool to have games to watch on devices and living room TV, looking back of 2013, a fair amount of time was spent just watching.  Not doing.

And at least at this point, “doing” is something I associate with reading.  Be it fiction or non, the mind is more engaged, enriched, from the effort used when reading.  Yes, there is not a lot physical activity, so it may not seem like “doing”.  But compared to watching three hours of a baseball game versus having read for a similar amount of time…?

So, the MLB subscription has been cancelled.  I’m going to retain access to the NHL, I’m a bit too much of new fan to abandon that just yet, since this is a full season after last year’s strike-shortened version.

Books-wise, I certainly have plenty in printed form on the shelves already.  A pile on the Kindle.  More in wishlists.  Between this backlog, and some social media-based lists and clubs, I should have plenty for reading.

Crash Course, Literature.

Vaginal Fantasy  (Goodreads)

Sword and Laser (site has a link to their forum on Goodreads)

Hopefully, there will be more activity from my Read shelf in Goodreads for this year…

What thing you like to do, have you let fall to the wayside?  And what needs to be changed to enable getting back to that thing?


Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

•November 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Writing.  I claim I like to read what others do with it.  I claim I enjoy expressing myself with it.  And yet, here is my first post to this blog for the year 2012.  The pile of Books I Want To Read has grown mildly, with me doing next to nothing in reading to make the pile shrink.  During Halloween evening, it occurred to me that another chance to participate in National Novel Writing Month was upon me.  So hey why not, let’s write a novel this month, I decided.

Seemed like a good idea at the time…

Now, it is the morning of November 2nd 2012.  And I’m starting to wonder about my claims.  Surrounded by good books, I don’t read.  Electronic or printed.  Too tired, too distracted, are my typical reasoning’s.  Do I really want to write a novel?  Do I just start writing out words?  Should I outline a story idea?  What is/are my story idea(s)?

And of course, the OK Go song of this same title, plays loudly in the theater of my mind so far as I attempt to write this, whatever this is.

So, what this is, is… a public deceleration that some writing will be done this month.  And reading.  Time should be available to the best of my knowledge (and I admit to wishing I could know exactly what the future would bring and when on some things right now… smells like another blog post topic).  I can make some other choices which should ensure such resources and time are even more likely to be available.

I doubt the results will be a 50k word novel… But there will be something.

So, now to the rest of this day off from work.  For both the tasks I had in mind before today arrived, and to also discover what today will bring.

What’s Going On

•March 24, 2011 • 1 Comment

October 4th 2010 to March 24th 2011.  Much happened before this stretch of time.  Even more has happened during.  October 3rd was the day everything changed.  A marriage of 21 years effectively ended.  I’m still not sure how I went ahead with attending a conference the next day on the 4th.  One of the obvious effects at that time, I already wrote about; suddenly I could not stand or bear to listen to any music.  That passed, with a bit of time.

October was trying to see if the marriage could be righted.  November was figuring how to split things up.  December was filing and waiting.  Early January, the divorce was approved.

As if that was not enough change to deal with, just a few days later, in the second day of online classes, we get an announcement e-mail.  The class I’ve taught for over two years, the first online teaching gig I got after earning my masters degree, is being dropped from the curriculum.  Corporate downsizing, in an academic setting.  We (many more teachers in full and part time capacities) were at least given a fair amount of time.  Eleven weeks, two classes in two remaining sessions.  I started looking for replacement teaching work.  While there was good news from another college that they wanted to start teaching a class I’ve done each semester with me teaching it, this would not be enough to replace the income I would be losing.

Earlier this month, I got word of being accepted to teach for a near-by college.  I have hopes this will turn out to be as good if not better.  Teaching three classes and searching/applying for new teaching classes has been a strain on top of more strains.  April should be a time to get a break from the routine, prepare for the new teaching.  I’ve been trying to prepare for the transition time.

All of that to say, it’s been hard to find the time to blog.  Or, I’ve had concerns about what I would write, when I found the time.  I’ve gone out of my way with this post, to try to stick to facts.  To attend to the idea that if I cannot say anything nice, to not say anything at all.  A friend advised me that there is life after divorce.  I can confirm that advice is true.  There have been good days and bad since early October.  There will be a mix like that in the next six months.  Such is Life.  And I am looking forward to discovering what the newer world before me will reveal.

The Day the Music Died

•October 4, 2010 • 1 Comment

I’ve actually wanted to post on the topic of Music, what I like about it, how it affects.  Or even finally do a fairly techno-geek post, about getting to use a new Kindle and how great of an experience that has been for the past few weeks.  Instead, just a brief note, to make sure I am not getting out of the weekly blogging habit.

Due to recent events, I’ve not wanted to even listen to anything musical, for 24 hours plus.  Which is extremely rare for me.  Today’s 1.5 hour car trip to attend a conference (turned into 2 hours due to my taking a needless detour), was done in silence, beyond engine and tire noise.  Granted, it let my mind think of things, needing consideration.  But as I write this, I’m fairly sure the drive back will be done in the same stoic silence.

I would be wildly surprised if the need or want to listen to good tunes will not return, at least some time in the not-to-distant future.  But some songs, may never be played again.

About Ray

•September 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

The following was read as part of Emmit Ray Kenney’s funeral earlier today:

It was just another Summer of 1987 day, as far as I knew at the time.  Only much later would I find out how I benefited from a bit of down-home prophecy from one Emmit Ray Kenney.  As I was prone to do that summer, I had gone to the beach.  Strolling towards the water, wearing my swim trunks and too-cool-for-school sunglasses, I’m sure I was feeling good while enjoying those fun and care-free days before my senior year of high school.  I probably did not even notice Ray, and his freckled redheaded daughter Betsey, as I went past them.  But they noticed me, it seems.  I’ve been told that…

Ray said “Look, there goes the man you are going to marry.”  To which Betsey said, “What?” looked up, and then watched me go into the water, leaving my glasses on while doing so.  “Him?  He swims with his sunglasses on, he’s obviously full of himself” was Betsey’s reading a book by its cover reaction.  “No, take it from me, one day you will marry him” Ray responded.  Betsey dismissed his proclamation on the outside, but did take note of it inside, as her Poppy had never made such a declaration before.

I mention this story to you now, as it immediately came to mind for me during some of my last moments with Ray.  It happened this past Wednesday morning.  Ray had a fall, and this time suffered the injury we all feared.  It took us a while to confirm, as Ray’s pain tolerance level is legendary.  The injuries he suffered and recovered from during his WWII service would have killed you or me.  Only Emmit Ray Kenney would want help to stand up, and then to try to walk on a broken hip.  When he could not manage to take a step, Betsey and I had confirmation.  So we carefully got him into our car, and whisked our way to CMH in Bolivar, for medical examination and consultation on what would be the next best actions to take.

Somewhere along the way, I realized Ray was just quietly sitting there.  I would have been screaming my fool head off from the pain.  I asked him how he was doing.  He thought about that for a moment, and replied, very calmly and clearly “I am not having a very good day”.  While I told him I agreed, that today had been pretty rough so far, I instantly relived the tale of Ray’s prediction about me to Betsey.  Yet again, I was impressed by the man named Ray, known as Poppy to his immediate family.  He was in the middle of what had to be a terrible amount of suffering, and that was all the more negative he could be. Just calmly stating the obvious fact, when I would have been cussing a blue streak, or sobbing, or both.

When we brought Ray back home later that Wednesday, he started to simply rest.  After weeks of constantly fighting against sleeping more than an hour or two at time, he was being peaceful.  I got back to Stockton on a late Friday afternoon, and was so weary I allowed myself to take a small nap in the room across from his.  I fell asleep to the sound of his snoring.  I woke up to a world without Ray in it anymore.

I’ve thrown a lot of words your way so far, and as I write this, I can’t imagine myself getting to this point of reading them to you, without having lost it a few times already.  I hate speaking in public, with a passion.  Even so, I simply must publicly thank Ray and his wife Wilma for all they have done for me.  Not only have they always treated me well, thought the best of me even in my worst moments, they’ve lived a great example of Doing the Right Thing.  They adopted their darling 7-year-old granddaughter, and raised her well.  They indulged their teenaged daughter’s wishes to leave the Big City, and move to Stockton, Missouri of all places.  How else would I have ever met the woman I have been blessed to call my wife for over 21 years?

Ray and Wilma made the move that enabled Betsey and I getting to know one another.  Then, Ray lobbied on my behalf with Betsey, when he really did not know me from Adam.  I never did ask Ray why he did this.  And I am glad I did not, as I get to enjoy that mystery for the rest of my days on this Earth.  But thank you, Ray, for making sure I was not dismissed in a glance.

Micah 6:8 states “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”  (NASB)  Emmit Ray Kenney was, for me, a shining example of what is good, what the LORD requires of us.  He was all about justice, and not just as a cop.  A footnote for “to love kindness” states “or loyalty”, and Ray certainly was loyal, in addition to being kind.  Ray’s walk with God was most certainly very humble.  Our world has been diminished with the loss of Poppy.  Anyone who has ever known Ray knows this loss as well.  As for me, I can only hope to fill some of the gap by doing what is good, what the LORD requires.  If we all fill the gap, our God-given world would be a better place.  And that would make Ray smile.


•September 13, 2010 • 1 Comment

Not much else to say at this time, what creative effort I had for today went towards writing what I will say at my father-in-law’s funeral on Tuesday morning.  I suspect it will be a few days before I feel like I can return to blog writing.

Weeds and Trash

•September 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It was a problem I knew was building up.  And I cannot say it was just due to the events of this summer.  The mowing season of 2008 had been my last for taking care of our yard on my own.  It is far from large, takes all of 30 to 40 minutes to get with a simple small push mower.  But my busy schedule, getting older, et cetera, encouraged me to agree to the idea of letting Someone Else mow the yard.

Looking back now, that took quite a bit of effort to let go of this task.  I’ve got some exacting standards of what I want done for the yard to be well-mowed.  Seems in letting go, I really let it go.  I went from caring just a bit too much about our yard, to not really caring at all.  Seeing the grass shaved to close, yet not well-trimmed at the edges, drove me nuts until I got numbed and callused.  I stopped patrolling for weeds and seedlings, cutting or pulling them as needed while they were still manageable.

As other things broke or wore out, stuff that did not fit well in the trash bins, the large chunks of debris started to pile up on one side of the house as well.  Weeds and grass did their part in trying to hide these things.  While someone else did the mowing in 2009, in 2010 my youngest took up the mowing duty, declaring how she wanted to earn some money via working for it.  All well and fine, but I did not look closely at the work being done, or not done.  And did not encourage better efforts myself, often doing little more than helping to get the mower started since only Daddy has the Touch (“The mower hates me, Dad!”).

Then the distractions got bigger and deeper in June, with the turn in my father-in-law’s health.  Now we needed to worry about his yard too.  What time I would have been at home to take care of our own yard was often used to be in Stockton instead of Bolivar.  I could see things getting out of hand, knew I would need to get after it soon, even happened to do some tool shopping at the start of a weekend, thinking I’d get started before anyone else noticed.

Then push came to shove, with the Bolivar Code Enforcement Officer leaving his card on my door in the middle of a Friday, of that same weekend.  No indication of what the problem was, just the pre-written card asking that I call to find out about the situation.  A few day later, I was finally able to confirm things were as I expected.  A complaint made about the south side of my house (Imma Looking at You, South Side Neighbor), he confirmed the complaint’s validity, and stated how we had time to address it before he made it official.

At least I was able to tell him the weeds had already been taken care of.   Sunday August 29th, I took my anger and irritation out on a whole lot of tall grass, trees, stupidly large weeds, via a 9 inch curved machete.  Has to be one of the “best tool for the job” I have ever boughten.  “Clears tall brush” it says on the label for the blade.  “And how” is what it should also say.  Other tools helped with related clearing of things, and I even got inspired to clean the gutters, as the forecast called for rain.  Just a day or two later, we had a good soaker, and the runoff flowed out as it should instead of just pouring over the sides.

I finished my Labor Day weekend early, by going back to Bolivar and packing up the trash.  Much more time and effort than I might have first expected.  But I did more weeding as that process went along.  Often it was a matter of weeding enough to see trash, and then the cleared areas would allow me to then mow that area after more than a year of it never being cut or whacked at all.  A bit ironic, perhaps, that there was a race going on between weeds and trash on that side of the house, and neither side one.  In reality, they only drew attention to themselves.

The local trash company arrive earlier today on a special trip to haul the gunk away.  I did not get a sign made or arrive in time to tell them to throw out the trash can I had used along with the rest, since it really is trash itself now.  Otherwise, things are so much better than they were.  Perfect?  No, but good enough for now.  With some application of time and effort, it will be easier to maintain at this level compared to all the work to get back to it.

Perhaps this was all yet another life lesson about Balance?  Somewhere between caring too much for the yard, and not really caring one bit, I should have been able to get settled into the land of Good Enough without being told.  And not with all the untold drama I managed to associate with finally getting some control back over the yard. I might even be struggling against the idea of Balance being best?

Ideally, for my personality, I get to do one thing at time, do it well, very well, and move on the next.  Like Winchester in one of his earliest M*A*S*H episodes.  Instead, I’ve had to adjust to being jack of many trades, fluttering to and fro.  Stopping and dropping everything else I normally juggle every day, just to do simple, manual, honesty-day-of-work labor of weeding and trash removal, at least gave me a glimpse of getting to work on just one thing, and doing it well.

Even so, I’ve lived more than long enough to know that the weeding never really ends.  Nature is always looking to reclaim what we build over it.  Stuff we make and use will break, and I’ll be told (or know) to get it out of the house.  I just need to do better at caring enough, again, to not let it pile up so deep.