Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Way-Back Machine -- "A Shrine for Things Taken for Granted"

In case you don't remember the Way-Back (WABAC) Machine, you can take a look at my blog entry for Friday, February 23, 2007.

From my Journal entry of July 30, 2000:

A book listed in "A Common Reader," August 2000 catalog, is They Have a Word for It by Howard Rheingold. It is a gathering of foreign words that have no equivalent in our tongue. One mentioned is the Japanese hari kuyo which is "a shrine where broken sewing needles are put to rest after a life of service." That's incredible! We just toss things. What if we had shrines composed of faithful objects that had served us well? What if we just developed a profound sense of appreciation for things we take for granted? Say ink pens -- old shoes -- car keys -- etc. We need a shrine dedicated to "all things taken for granted!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Hand

This morning in church, my grandson, David, was playing with crayons, and he dropped several on the floor. He bent down to pick up the crayons, and I saw my daughter put her hand under the hymnal rack anticipating David would lift his head oblivious to the danger. Sure enough, David lifted his head, but instead of hitting it on the sharp corner of the hymnal rack, his head met the soft, loving hand of his mother.

This was a simple scene, but to me it was so tender and touching, and it seemed to be a moment where something remarkable had been shown to me. Perhaps, I thought, this is how God’s hand works. He anticipates a danger and puts his hand there to protect us. There are two moments which came to mind, one recent and the other which happened a couple of summers ago.

It was opening night of Baldwin High School’s production of The Wiz, and my son Patrick had several roles in the play. After the play was over, a couple of judges from state who were in the audience to evaluate the play’s potential at state competition, went back with the cast to talk about the performance. It took a while, and afterwards we were hungry, and since it was so late, we decided to go eat somewhere. Trying to decide where was not easy, since choices at this hour were limited to a few fast food places. I reluctantly agreed on Kentucky Fried Chicken.

When we pulled up in the parking lot of KFC, we weren’t sure if the place was still open. There were no customers in the store, but when we walked in, a girl welcomed us and asked for our order. No sooner had we begun placing our orders than there was a loud pop from the back, and a girl began screaming, “Fire!” She added some other colorful language I’ll omit, since I try to keep the blog at least GP rated. Another young lady, apparently the manager, came into view from the back and shouted to us there was an emergency and we’d have to leave, that they were now closed. In all the frantic commotion we decided to stay to make sure everyone was all right. The staff consisted of three girls, a couple of them probably high school age. They couldn’t get the fire extinguisher off the wall and were all panicking. The girl who was waiting on us began filling a large pitcher with water. As she headed in the direction of the fire, I screamed, “No! Don’t throw water on a grease fire!” She turned around and questioned, “No?” I explained quickly what throwing cold water on a vat of flaming grease would do. It would most likely have exploded and thrown hot grease over everyone nearby, and the fire would spread as the flaming grease floated on the water.

They were eventually able to get the fire extinguisher off the wall and got the fire put out, but that was a close call. As we left, I was suddenly aware that we had come to KFC for one reason – I had to be there to keep that young girl from throwing water on that fire. She probably would have been severely burned. As I slipped into the car, the realization of this made me weak for a few seconds. There was “The Hand”.

Two summers ago, we took a group of high school and middle school kids from our church to Brunswick, Georgia. The mother of one of our college students had opened her home to us so we could go to the beach. We left in the afternoon to get there in time to have supper at a popular sea food restaurant on St. Simons Island, then returned to the house where we spread blankets and sleeping bags on the floor in several rooms. The trip over the causeway to St. Simons had whetted our appetite for the beach the next day.

The next day, we loaded up and headed back to St. Simons. After a bit of shopping in some of the interesting stores on the island, we headed to the beach. It was a sunny day and very hot. It was a pleasure to get into the water. Being one of the adults in charge, I kept my eyes open, constantly scanning the water to keep up with our kids. I noticed my youngest son Patrick floating on a football had gotten a good distance from the shore, so I waded out as far as I could stand up and yelled for him to come back closer to the shore. He yelled back that he couldn’t – he was caught on a current. I can’t tell you the shock of watching my child in the ocean well out of reach and heading for deeper water. Immediately I started swimming out till I reached him, but when I I turned around and tried taking us back to shore, I realized two things: 1) we were further out than I thought, and 2) we were both caught in a current taking us even further out. I tried swimming with all my might, but I wasn’t making any progress. The beach and all the people looked so far away, but I started screaming. No one heard. I can’t remember being as scared. I noticed a man with a boogey board and a couple of girls that were a little closer in playing with a Frisbee. I screamed as loudly as I could, and the man finally heard me. As soon as he realized we were in trouble, he headed out to us. He was able to pull us back in, and finally I was able to stand on the bottom. Fortunately, not only was he equipped with a plastic flotation device, but he was also a trained lifeguard who just happened to be within hearing range of my screams. There it was – “The Hand”. I still shudder when I remember that afternoon.

Of course, some will be quick to point out that there are many times when “The Hand” doesn’t seem to be there. I constantly question why bad things have to happen – earthquakes, floods, the terrible tsunami of December, 2004. Why do children get sick and die? My first son never came home from the hospital, but died in my arms at 9 days old. Why? I just don’t understand. However, this doesn’t keep me from seeing “The Hand” so many times, just like my daughter’s loving hand stretched out to protect her son from harm. And for that, I am thankful.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mâché Creations

There is something beautiful about discarded paper -- newspapers, old memos and reports, magazines, catalogs...it doesn't really matter. I see things there that most people probably don't see -- dragons, turtles, giraffes, fish, castles, and characters of all sorts. It is my job to bring them to life so others can see them. I have named my studio (a loose term given to describe any place where I happen to be creating) Mâché Creations.

Here is a sampling of what's going on in the studio these days: from the magic of chips of paper, to the creatures arising out of them.

It all begins here...with paper. Big sheets torn repeatedly, or cut into tiny pieces with scissors, until I have the raw material to begin shaping into what my head visualizes (but not entirely...the paper has a will of its own and comprimises must continually be made).

This is tedious work, but the results are even beautiful before the process of gluing pieces of paper together begins. Shapes and sizes and colors yield an appealing texture that never ceases to thrill and fascinate me.
I need a variety of sizes. The smallest pieces -- about 1/8 of an inch -- are for forming more precise shapes. I have returned to a process of gluing pieces of paper together, one by one, and working the shape as I go. Everything I do is freehand. I go from the paper chips you see to the eventual shapes using only the air for an armature. The only exceptions are the occasional rolled tube that establishes the form of a leg or arm on a creature. Dragons are my favorite subjects, and I have a variety of characters in the works.

In the rising menagerie are fish and turtles, giraffes (not pictured), and a variety of dragons. There are many other creatures abiding in my mind waiting to get out and express themselves into form.
I love the graceful curves of dragons' necks. Just wait until you see them with wings and ears. After I have them basically formed in this manner, I will take paper pulp made in the blender and kneaded together with glue, and with it cover the figures and sculpt the fine detail work. Previous work can be seen in an earlier blog post.
Stay tuned! I will be sharing more as the work on these projects progresses.
[Photos by Cris Bohannon]

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22nd...the day I became a Marine.

Today is September 22, a very special date. Yes...the first day of fall, but something much more important to me. It is a birthday for me. Not the day I was first born, but a birthday no less. On September 22, 1976, I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. It was the day when I became a Marine and was first called by that title. It still brings a thrill to think about it.

On June 28, 1976, six nervous recruits left from the AFEES building in Atlanta for the airport where we were flown, courtesy of our dear Uncle Sam, to Charleston, South Carolina. There we were met by a Marine Corps liaison and began meeting other young men from around the country who would share one of the most frightening experiences of our lives -- our arrival via bus. Our "incarceration" had begun. We were limited to a small area of the airport where we were able to have supper, but those who wanted alcohol to settle their nerves found out everyone there was in on the plot. Just like the flight attendants on the flight to Charleston, the airport staff would not serve any recruits alcohol. It was all for the best, because it would be three days before we would be allowed to sleep again.

The ride from Charleston to Parris Island was made in the dark of night. We weren't to be allowed the pleasure of scenery, or to comprehend the route to the island that would be home for many of us for the next three months. As we rode past the sentries, we all realized it was about to happen. We were about to meet the people we'd had nightmares about for months. The Marine who came onto the bus to deliver our "welcome" didn't disappoint. We all flew off the bus and headed for the yellow footprints which would give us our first lesson on how to stand with our heels together at a 45 degree angle. Throughout the night, we were shuffled from place to place, filling out paperwork and having instructions barked at us...more instructions than we could possibly remember. Around 4:00 a.m. we were marched into the barbershop for a "trim". Stout South Carolina barbers were waiting to begin the first step of making us all look alike -- our first step of becoming a uniform outfit. The haircuts were brutal -- shears were pressed onto our scalps, and with long sweeps off came hair, warts, moles or any other obstacles that might reside on our heads. I saw several recruits come from the barber chair with lines of blood streaming down their heads.

Over the next several days we went through medical tests and inoculations; had every possession we arrived with bagged , marked, and taken to a warehouse; were issued our clothing and 782 gear (basic field equipment); and spent hours marching clumsily from place to place and standing in lines for hours. About the third day we were loaded into a trailer and taken to our permanent barracks where we met our platoon's senior drill instructor and drill instructors. While this was another nerve-wracking experience, it was also a relief from the stressful days of formation. We ran into our barracks -- my platoon was on the second deck (floor) -- and found the rack that corresponded to our laundry numbers. Since I was Bohannon, my laundry number was 4, which put me only one set of racks away from the DI hut. We spent 30 minutes standing at attention on our knees on the concrete floor. The senior drill instructor explained a few days before graduation why they do this -- they have to weed out quickly anybody whose knees won't take the strain of prolonged pressure.

Marine Corps basic training takes place in three phases. Phase 1 is a period of complete breaking down of the individual. The stress, physical and emotional, is intense and never lets up. We have our initial PFT (physical fitness test) and begin PT (physical training) and lots of drill. We learned how to do a school circle -- which is usually four even columns. Our classroom instruction did not take place in chairs or desks, but sitting at attention on hard floors.
Second phase consists of the rifle range, water qualification, and various other training. The breakdown period of first phase transitions into a phase of grooming Marines, but the pressure still never lets up. Third phase we finally get to get high and tight haircuts instead of the shaved heads that we've worn through the first two phases. We are becoming Marines. We've qualified with the rifle and passe other important tests; we are feeling more like fighting men.
Third phase consists of intense combat training. We get to participate in military maneuvers and learn important combat skills, like how to throw a hand grenade, how to use the bayonette to look for landmines, how to detect booby traps, etc. The training culminates in several intense days which are now called "The Crucible", but when I was in boot camp it was called Individual Combat Training (ICT). There was also the Essential Military Subjects Test (EMST), where we were examined in 12 areas, including NBC (Nuclear Biological Chemical warfare -- which includes a visit to the gas chamber), UCMJ (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), Close Order Drill, Marine Corps History, Military Customs, field stripping the M-16 and putting it back together, identifying various grenades by touch, and first aid.

One of my favorite parts of boot camp was the Confidence Course. There are various structures designed to intimidate and test courage and strength. Probably the most well-know obstacle is the Slide for Life. The recruit slides across a rope stretched over a pool of water. There are three positions: the recruit begins with his stomach on the rope, one foot over and one leg hanging down; at the changeover point, the recruit hangs by hands and legs with head facing the destination; finally, the recruit changes to the same position but with the feet heading toward the destination. Anyone falling has to snap to attention and yell "Marine Corps!" till he hits the water. Fortunately, I didn't fall -- even though two mischievous DIs began shaking my rope for their amusement.

There is no way to put into words adequately the stress, the uncertainty, the homesickness, and all the other emotions and sensations of the training that leads to becoming a Marine. All I know is on the final day it was all worth it as I marched across the parade field and heard that depot band playing the marching songs, then standing at attention as we were first called Marines, then hearing the "Marine Corps Hymn" for the first time as a Marine. Fortunately, one of the benefits of becoming a Marine is -- Once a Marine...Always a Marine. Don't call me an ex-Marine. I am a Marine. And today is my birthday. And I'm still proud, and the "Marine Corps Hymn" still gives me goosebumps and leaves tears of pride in my eyes. SEMPER FI!!! and OOH RAH!!!
  • James O. Bohannon, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Alpha Company, Parris Islcand, South Carolina, graduated 22 September 1976.
  • The yellow footprints that greet every new recruit to Parris Island.
  • The Slide for Life (I notice now there is a "net" -- we were over water the entire time).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Storm Lee Bohannon...the newest member of the family

On Thursday, September 4, 2008, at 12:32 p.m., we welcomed into our world Storm Lee Bohannon. Everything went well with the labor and delivery, except for a brief scare as Storm's heart rate began dropping just before delivery. He is a healthy, beautiful little boy. He was 6 lbs. 4.3 oz. and 19 inches long.

This afternoon I got to spend some time holding him. He seemed to be just fine with me talking to him -- he slept right through it. His big brother, Rain, isn't too sure about having to share the limelight, but his cousin David (my other grandson) definitely loves him and can't wait for Mommy to have his little sister or brother in February. I guess it goes without saying, but I must say it anyway -- I love this little boy with all my heart. During this hurricane season, finally a Storm we can be glad to welcome!

A Survey from MySpace...

If you have a MySpace account, then you are familiar with the Bulletin Board, where you can post something so all your friends can see it and respond if they want. Honestly, I rarely ever check the thing, because the bulletin board gets so cluttered with stuff, and I don't have time to fool with it. But...occasionally I will check out somebody's "survey" and even reply, and it's a lot of fun. Here's a reply to one that my buddy JohnBoy posted. They are the same questions he had answered, but the replies are all mine:


Do you miss the way things used to be?

There are many ways things used to be, and I miss many of them. I miss being a child and standing on the couch looking out the window...I miss being an active duty Marine...I miss college and all the friends I had then...I miss seminary at Emory University...but I'm continually looking forward to new things, even while relishing the way things used to be.

Who is the oldest person on your top friends?

Cris (my wife).

Who is the youngest?

Angel Grace (my sweet Angelita).

Last person you gave/received flowers to/from?

Cris (my wife)...but I've also given flowers to my daughter, Elizabeth; my friend, Terri; my mother in law; and my sister in law. I haven't received any, but I'd like to!

Would you ever live with anyone on your top friends?

I already do...Cris, my wife. Also with my son, Patrick, and my daughter, Elizabeth.

Is there anyone you wish would just fall off a cliff?
Osama Bin Laden and every terrorist, every dangerous ideological extremist, and every street thug out to pop a cap in somebody for fun...and I'd help push to get them started.

Last fast food you ate?

I don't do fast food anymore except under duress, but I'd have to say a fish sandwich at Burger King a few months ago.

What's the most fun you've had lately?

Being with the "young people" (don'tcha hate that term!) at the Hopewell lock-in a few weeks ago playing games and acting silly the whole night long...playing with my grandson, David...and getting to hold my new grandson, Storm, this evening.

Do you have text messaging on your phone?

Don't have a cell phone anymore, but I used to have it -- and, by golly, I know how to use it too!

Do you have a lava lamp?
No...but they are kinda cool, in that 60s nostalgic sort of way.

When you drive, do you use your rear view mirrors?

Yes...and the windshield and windows too!

Do you miss anyone?

Lots of people -- especially my mama!

[Mama & me in 1993]

What kind of mood are you in?

A pretty good one...but I'm sort of frustrated at all I need to get done.

Are you tan?

Some places yes...most places no.

Have you held hands with anyone in the past three days?

Of course I have...my wife, and my grandson

What do you think your best friend is doing right now?

I haven't the foggiest idea.

What is your favorite thing to eat?

Yogurt and raw spinich salads (not necessarily together), from a sheer nutritional standpoint, but one of my all-time favorite meals is fried salmon patties, mashed potatoes, and English peas.
Have you kissed anyone in the past three days?

I sure have...I kissed a girl, and I liked it! :)

Do you like your hair?

It's okay. Sometimes I look like Einstein, but it's okay -- I like Einstein. All of us geniuses have to have weird hair!

Is there someone on your mind that shouldn't be?

Yes...probably...oh, I don't know...it's my mind, why shouldn't somebody be there if I want them to be!

What do you think of people who smoke?

They're human beings just like the rest of us -- they just don't smell as good.

Do you prefer warm or cold weather?

Nice crisp autumn weather, or the first hint of spring in the air after a cold winter.

What was the last thing you laughed really hard about?

Something funny my grandson, David, did -- I can't remember what it was...he's so amazing, he's always doing things to make me laugh.

Could you go a day without eating?

Sure...but I wouldn't like it. And you wouldn't want to be around me!

Have you ever kissed someone and never saw them again?

Yep...and that's all I'm gonna say about that!

Are you still best friends with the same person as the beginning of the year?

Of course I am! Why wouldn't I be? I'm a fantastic friend.

Do you think a lot of people think bad things about you?

I'd like to think not, but I'm sure some people do, but they probably have no reason to. There's a lady at church who for years refuses to speak to me, treats me very rudely whenever I see her there or elsewhere, and generally acts like I'm invisible to her. It hurts, and I've racked my brain trying to remember if there was anything I ever did to her to make her hate me so...but there's nothing I can think of. And if there was...there's no way it was intentional. This has gone on for years, and it always hurts just as badly -- and there have even been times I considered leaving our church because of it. It's a very private pain.

What are you excited about?

Several things: being a grandfather several times over, sculpting and writing projects, getting re-aquainted with some old friends on FaceBook, and making lots of new friends.

What was the first thing you said when you woke up today?

I am exhausted! I barely slept at all last night!

Have you ever had a best friend who was of the opposite sex?

Most of my best friends are and have been of the opposite sex. For some reason I have always been more comfortable relating to females.

Was your morning good and why?

No...I slept like crap and was exhausted -- the house smelled like something dead was under it (and I didn't have a chance to go under there and check till tonight -- and sure enough, there was...a very dead cat!). Tomorrow's got to be better!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stay Tuned!!!

Greetings, dear readers. Maybe you've noticed I haven't updated in a while...(hopefully someone has noticed). Well, I'm back, and over the next few days I plan to be adding more posts on a variety of topics. I have a full notebook...it's just a matter of developing some of the topics a little more fully.

Some things I plan to talk about:

1) My Uncle Brooks (Garland Brooks Turner), a World War I veteran who lived to tell about his own funeral.

2) Reflections on the presidential campaign and my feelings about some of the issues (including "climate change", terrorism and the hunt for Bin Laden, health care, the war in Iraq, etc.). Should be fun!

3) Flannery O'Connor -- world renowned author and local Milledgeville resident, who died much too young of complications from lupus. I want to talk about the author personally and analyze some of her work I think will interest you.

4) An update on my journey of working out, eating right, losing weight and getting back into shape nearly 10 months in. If I can do it, you probably can too.

5) My renewed determination to establish myself (or, I guess I should say, re-establish myself) as an artist.

6) My fascination with the world of online audio sources, from podcasts to Pandora, from audiobooks for purchase at Audible.com to free audiobooks at Librivox and Podiobooks.

These and many other interesting topics will be showing up here at the blog very soon. So...stay tuned!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Visit to the Georgia Aquarium

When I was in my early teens, I had a book on aquarium fish full of pictures and information that gave me hours of pleasure. I dreamed of one day owning an amazing aquarium. For starters, I planned to have a basement, and one entire wall was going to be an aquarium sectioned off into various environments. Plants and fish and rocks and assorted scenery decorated my mind (still does, as a matter of fact).

Actually we've owned two or three aquariums over the years, nothing approaching even in miniature the fantastic dreams I nursed in my youth. After a while the aquariums became the visual equivalent of white noise at best -- or worse, a tedious chore. Too many things in real life competed for money, time and energy, and it seemed like the only fish we had any success with were plain-colored danios.

On Friday my dreams took flight again. We visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, the world's largest aquarium. It turned out to be an expensive day after tickets, gas for two vehicles, and food, but it was worth it. We all had a ball!

I want to share some of the pictures of our day at the Georgia Aquarium, and if you're ever in the area -- I highly recommend a visit there.

There are spectacular views throughout the aquarium.

A hammerhead swims among assorted fish and rays.

Can you believe it! A petting zoo at the aquarium! It was fun, even after one of the bonnet sharks swam over my hand and tried to take a nibble (we didn't realize it was almost feeding time).

The anemones were beautiful -- and you can touch them too!

This beluga whale was a big, graceful showoff. It was my daughter's favorite.

This South African penguin enjoyed watching us as we watched back from a glass enclosure inside its habitat.

I can't remember the species of fish, but this pretty specimen is indicative of the beauty housed in this aquarium.

I couldn't leave without giving a hug to Deepo, the Georgia Aquarium mascot. Boy, I love fish!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Flower for Mama: A Lesson That Finally Bloomed

The house in which I grew up was small and Spartan. My mama seems in my mind to be perpetually standing at the sink washing dishes and looking out the window at a little patch of the world she loved and from which she never strayed far or for long. There was no running hot water in the kitchen, and Mama always kept a kettle on the stove to heat water for washing dishes. The immediate view out the kitchen window was the crepe myrtle just across the driveway, surrounded by one of the poorest scraps of soil on the property, so when one of the tulips Mama had planted there actually came up and bloomed, it gave her a simple yet profound private joy of which her three year old son (that would be me) was utterly unaware.

Playing in the yard early one afternoon, I noticed the flower. Knowing how Mama seemed to enjoy flowers, I thought she would love to have this one in the house, so…I picked it. Mama must have been at her post staring out the window, because she met me at the door as I rushed in to present the gift. I couldn’t wait to see how happy Mama would be, so I was completely unprepared when she began scolding me for picking her flower. When I started sobbing hysterically, Mama was immediately repentant and took me in her arms trying to console me and apologizing for scolding me, because she realized I was only trying to make her happy. But the episode left a shadow on my early childhood that led to an event which my daddy enjoyed telling with a chuckle for years.

I was riding in the car with Daddy down a country road. In those days seatbelts and child restraints were unknown, and I always traveled standing in the center of the front bench seat with my arms spread across the back of the seat for balance. We came to a field that seemed literally to explode in color with wildflowers. Daddy pulled the car over and started to get out. He said, “Let’s get your mama a bunch of flowers.” With a serious look, I shook my head and said, “No, Daddy. Mama don’t like flowers.”

He couldn’t coax me out of the car, so he climbed back in and we went home. He told Mama about the flowers and what I’d said, and she explained about the tulip. It was something Mama always regretted. I remember once when we were sitting around the table at Mama’s house sharing this story with my children, Mama laughed, but she came over and kissed me lightly on the back of the neck, hugged me and said, “He just wanted to give his mama a flower, and I should’ve just taken it.”

In my teens, I fell in love with growing things – flowers and plants of every kind. I started a compost pile and took cuttings, seeds, and bulbs from all my elderly aunts whose houses lined the street across the field from our house. Eventually I worked some good topsoil and compost into that sorry patch of earth across from Mama’s kitchen window and planted cannas which had been struggling to grow in another part of the yard. They performed magnificently, reaching seven feet in height and blooming profusely. I told mama I had finally made up for picking her tulip. She just laughed and hugged me and said she loved looking out that window more than ever. I was wrong, Daddy – Mama really did like flowers.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

In The Declaration of Independence, we find these words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We Americans are a privileged people. Although we are continuously reminded these days of the proliferation of anti-American sentiment by various people around the world (and even some in this country), we are heirs to a heritage of freedom, hope, and optimism that much of the world can only dream of. With tremendous privilege comes tremendous responsibility. Today we remember and honor those who have borne that responsibility with their lives.

Consequently, we are reminded of the service of every man and woman who takes the oath of military service. In November of 1975, with my heart pounding and goosebumps rushing to cover my body, I raised my right hand and repeated these words as I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps:

I, James Oscar Bohannon, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Today I salute all my brothers and sisters in arms who’ve shared that oath (or one very similar) and who bear those arms not for malicious purposes, but who bear them to stand guard over my freedom and yours, and to keep safe the country that, despite its many flaws and shortcomings, stands as the greatest beacon of hope to the world. To those who’ve paid the ultimate price for freedom and honor, and for those who’ve been willing to face the possibility of paying that price, may God bless you always – and, indeed, may God bless America!


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rip Van Winkle, the Prodigal Son, and the Author of this Blog...

Hmm...now just what do Rip Van Winkle, the Prodigal Son, and the author of this blog have in common? Tick, tock, tick, tock, buzzzzzz...time's up. They all disappeared and didn't show up where they belonged for quite a while. Wow! Can you believe it's been over three months since I last posted anything at my blog! That just will not do, and I can't let that happen again.

So much has happened since the last time I spoke to you. My brother went into the hospital again with congestive heart failure and almost died again (but he's back home, on regular dialysis, and better be watching his diet). A good friend of mine got very sick, and my wife and I took her to the emergency room with a fever of 104 degrees, and we were waited on by a medical team that obviously either trained with the Three Stooges or got their credentials from Clown College. But...she survived and recovered after lots of tender, loving care. I celebrated my 51st birthday (on March 28th), but I haven't felt younger in years (probably in great part because I'm still working out regularly...yay!). Cris and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, but we didn't get to go to the bed and breakfast in the mountains like we'd planned, because the transmission went out in the car and sucked nearly $2000.00 out of savings, and this just after paying nearly $400.00 for repairs on the van. This left roughly enough in our bank account for us to stay in bed here and have a bowl of cereal for breakfast (not the bed & breakfast we'd envisioned for a milestone...but we're gonna make up for it as soon as school's out!).

I have lots of notes about subjects I want to write about, like how my writing has not been going well at all. Heck, it hasn't even been going badly. It just hasn't been going...but that's changing. I'm also working on sculpting using a new technique -- more on that later (when something is finished and I can show you). There is a presidential campaign going on -- in case you haven't noticed -- and I have some thoughts. Boy, do I have some thoughts. Oh...my one year old grandson lost his Medicaid, and we've been unable to get it back, and we can't apply for the children's health insurance, because he qualifies for Medicaid (go figure!). Soooo...my toddler grandson is uninsured. Meanwhile, my oldest son lost his job (painting houses) weeks ago and has run out of unemployment (and has a second child on the way). That means I have two grown children and their families with no health insurance and inadequate incomes. Don't you just love the American Dream!

Ahhh...yes, there is so much to talk about, but for now, I just wanted you to know I'm still around. So, kill the fatted calf, bring the best garments and the family ring, and stir up the merriment -- the Prodigal has returned!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday David Jeremiah Garcia!!!

My first grandson is one year old today! It's hard to believe. The joy he has brought into our lives is indescribable, and I can't imagine a world without him. We'll have a party on February 9th (yeah...I know, but we tend to draw birthdays out for weeks around here).

FELIZ PRIMERO CUMPLEAÑOS!!! Mi Davidito, ¡te amo mucho!

~ Tu Papa

Friday, January 11, 2008

The New Year...So Far

We're heading for the two week mark of the new year, the point where I understand many people start falling by the wayside on those ambitious resolutions. That's just one reason why I never make any. I have resolved not to resolve -- and that's the only one I keep. However, I do have some serious plans and resolute intentions for this year, and I am sticking with them. I actually began before the new year, but I plan to keep the momentum going throughout this year -- and beyond.

Getting in Shape

It's about time to check the classifieds -- I want a treadmill. This may be the time when all those good intentions are wearing thin, and those people who splurged on fancy exercise equipment have decided to cut their loses. Don't know where I'm going to put it, but after taking a run on a chilly afternoon it's taken days to shake the cough (actually, I still haven't shaken it). I'd love to be able to run in my office with some good, inspiring music blasting from my Bose speakers. Fortunately, we do have a new exercise bike -- the kind with the pedals out front -- that I got for my wife, who recently had knee surgery. We are putting it to good use.

I'd bought a new weight bench a few months back, and immediately hurt my back and was in such pain I couldn't even assemble it. Then my oldest son came over and put it together -- but we had no weights. We finally went to Academy Sports & Outdoors and got a set of steel free weights, and I was like a child at Christmas (even though we got them a few weeks before Christmas). It still took a couple of weeks to get going, but thanks to my youngest son -- who has been using them -- I worked out one afternoon, and I've been doing it ever since.

I've lost about 15 pounds, dropped two pants sizes, and my musculature is re-appearing with surprising definition. And I'm feeling good (except for the tendinitis in my left arm). I'm not eating nearly as much, and I don't miss it. A couple of weekends ago, we had to go shopping. I needed new clothes! From size 40 to size 38, and I'm on the way to 36! Pardon me if I sound a little boastful, but I feel I deserve it. This has taken weeks of hard work and determination -- and I am a little proud.


I've been writing for years, but I've never had the focus to stick with a project longer than a modest poem -- not counting journal entries and the occasional blog. Now, however, I am actively working on my first novel. I've enlisted a bakers dozen of some of the most intelligent and wonderful people I know to be readers for my book, and I plan to be ready to shop for an agent by April. Now I feel like I can really call myself a writer.

In case any of you were wondering why my blog hasn't been updated in nearly a month -- now you know. But...I hope to do better with posting. I started this blog as an outlet to share my writing and ideas, and I don't plan to abandon it.

Best Wishes to My Blog Readers

To all of you who've been faithful readers, and to those who stop by from time to time -- and to those of you who may have just now discovered my little home on the Internet -- I wish a very blessed, peaceful, and successful 2008.