Lemonade…and a good Christmas tradition…redux

This was a busy Christmas season at the Post Office.

I don’t know when it hasn’t been busy at the Post Office at Christmas, but this season seemed busier…heavier…than usual.

Maybe I am just getting older…weaker…tired?

Nah! I’m a BRUTE!!

I’m a POSTAL BRUTE!!

Anyway, it was busy enough that I didn’t really have a lot of time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas…the gist…the reason we celebrate… as I scurried away from another in a long line of porches after dropping off another Amazon package

The best I could do was a quick turn and a “Merry Christmas to you, too” when someone came out to get their package and told me “thankyou!”

The best I could do? Nah….maybe the best I did do….

This is a blog post that a friend of mine wrote a number of years ago that sums it up…

It became a tradition of sorts for me when I was still writing the blog consistently to feature his post at Christmas.

Rod Perry is the fellow who wrote this…and a number of other writings….

He’s an Iditarod pioneer and created the movie “Sourdough”.

I featured this on my blog….over 11 YEARS AGO!!

Man.

Anyway….here goes:

Ice Cream and Lemonade

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My mother spent her last years here with us near the old Iditarod Trail. But she grew up in a sod house and half dugout on a land claim in New Mexico Territory. She was born at a time when Pancho Villa’s raiding was keeping things lively thereabouts, before the territory became our forty-seventh state.

Among the frontier folk who scratched out a bare living scattered about the arid, sparsely-grassed country were many that were hardly schooled. Once a good little wife and mother walked five rough miles across the plains (then five back home) to borrow from my grandmother some “ingredients.” When questioned what ingredients in particular she sought, the poor dear looked puzzled. She explained that she had flour, salt, baking powder, and everything else called for except the item, “ingredients” she saw mentioned in the recipe.

My mother happened to be in the general store when a little girl came in to pick up an order. “I came to get wipin’ paper. Ma said put it on our bill.” The store keeper, not recognizing which family the girl belonged to, asked, “Little Lady, who is this for?” To which she answered, “All of us.”

Parents on a distant claim sent word around that they would be holding a birthday party for their son. A social event of such rarity drew every kid within walking or riding distance. My mother went, as did three sisters who came as they did each day to school, astride Ol’ Silas, their mule. Upon arrival each guest paid respects to the birthday boy then joined in the festivities honoring him as the center of attention. That is, until a young chap, getting there late, burst through the door. With not so much as a look in the direction of the one whose birthday was the sole reason for the entire gathering, he loudly proclaimed, “I come for ice cream and lemonade!”

Now, looking around during the Christmas season, I see parties, celebrations, plays and performances, going home for the holidays, family, children and friends. I see Santa and traditions, gift giving and benevolence to the needy. Center Jesus in his rightful place and it’s all so rich. But those celebrants who leave out the Savior, never stopping to so much as acknowledge God’s greatest gift as the very reason for the season, well, they are as crudely off the mark as that boorish late-arriving boy at the party on the plains almost a century ago. Leave Jesus out and even the highest and best of the rest is only, “I come for ice cream and lemonade!”

A “Happy Holidays” kind of Christless Christmas season, one that ignores, circumvents, or purposely shuts out both the Christ and the mass (celebration of his birth) might best be summed up using words of the famous trailsman, gold rush dog driver, Old Ben Atwater. “Whagh! Why, it’s all worth no more than a cold half pinch of last years’ bear scat!”

If even that.

Rod Perry

We need to slow down and remember what this season is all about.

We need to remember Jesus all year long.

Slow down.

Remember.

(Thanks, Rod! I hope you’re doing OK!)

when i stop

When I get to stop…no, when I choose to stop….working at the Post Office…I will be doing this dance as I escape out the back door on my last day.

That’s the way it’s going to be.

That’s how I am going to roll.

Until then, though, I am going to be a good and consistent employee.

I will be an employee who carries the vision of my final dance in my head.

That secret vision will get you through a great deal of discomfort.

The “secret smile”.

long haul

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I can hear the trucks on the highway when I get down to the little Baptist church on our road.

It’s halfway to the end of the road, and that’s where I turn around when I’m walking before the sun comes up.

Jenny talked to me the other night about becoming a truck driver.

She thought that we could be a team and travel around the country.

Sounds good if I wasn’t afraid to drive a big truck down some of the crazy grades that are all over the West.

I’m afraid to drive a minivan on those grades.

Imagine how scared I’d be if I was driving a reefer full of pork down a big hill?

Long haul.

Now they call the results of covid that some people experience “long haul”.

They’re pretty jacked up…lots of weird and prolonged symptoms…sick for the “long haul”.

If I could escape that fate, I’d get in the biggest truck and just drive.

I’d drive anywhere where I could be safe…away and safe.

Part of my mail route is a crazy gravel mountain.

Miller Mtn.

I battle Miller Mtn. every day that I drive the mail.

The first time I drove it, even Miller Mtn. was scary.

It’s steep.

Now I could drive it in my sleep.

Nah….better stay awake.

Anyway, repetition helps the fear evaporate.

I’m not afraid of the things that are familiar.

When the mountain is icy, the fear comes back…but after a bunch of years of driving it, I’m not really nervous about being up there.

Van life…long haul trucker…setting up a yurt…out there somewhere…other…someplace “other”.

Someplace other.

One of these days, we need to work at leaving….find our “someplace other”.

But…every someplace other turns into a new starting point if you rest long enough.

Who knows?

Boba’s Rock

See The Original Monolith From 2001: A Space Odyssey | Londonist

I haven’t been running lately.

I haven’t been walking lately.

It’s just not something that I’ve been doing lately.

I haven’t been getting enough exercise.

Lately.

This morning, I went for a short walk.

It felt good.

It felt familiar.

I think it felt like something I needed.

Anyway, there’s a rock that I pass on the route that I take that is a marker for someone else’s path.

It stands up…like a mid-size monolith.

It could be a bear or an alien or a misplaced bison or anything else that I wouldn’t understand in the dark…but…it’s just a rock.

I took my daughter’s dog, Boba, on a walk with me one nighttime morning a while ago when we were dogsitting him, and when we passed the rock he went crazy with terrified barking.

He didn’t understand…and he was afraid.

The rock is a common part of my experience…so I don’t really pay much attention to it.

To Boba, the rock, silhouetted in the moonlight, could have been anything.

I took him over to the rock to try and explain that it was just a rock, but even in the light of the flashlight that I carry but don’t usually use…even when he could see that it was just a large stone, turned on edge, he kept barking.

The thing that scared him when he couldn’t completely see it was just as scary in the light.

A strong explanation and all the illumination I could give him didn’t mean squat.

Maybe that’s “fear momentum”?

Even when the strange was transformed into something familiar, he couldn’t get over his feeling of dreadful and impending potential doom.

Now, if I was in India (this is an aside…but I’ll tie it in somehow), and I saw a monkey…or even a bunch of monkeys…it would be like seeing a squirrel here in the States.

I wouldn’t pay it much attention.

I’d be mad if it stole my curry, but I wouldn’t be freaked out.

But, if I was here at home and I saw a monkey out on my predawn walk, I would fricking freak.

Fricken freak-out, that is.

A monkey is not a squirrel taken out of context.

Our big dog is not a wolf.

A stone is not a threat.

I see things on the edge of what I understand all the time.

What I think is in the shadows gives me pause sometimes…but the reality of the situation isn’t often the danger that I think it is.

But…I would be scared if a squirrel was messing with me even if I’d seen a kajillion squirrels in my neighborhood over the course of a lifetime.

Familiar doesn’t always mean safe.

Boba is scared of a stone in the dark.

My comfort zone keeps danger at bay.

I will grasp the familiar like holding tight will save my life if it will keep me away from worry.

How’s that for a crappy creed?

“I promise to avoid the things I fear and don’t understand. I promise to calcify my worldview. I promise to never think about things that challenge me or expand my range of experience. I promise to distrust the people around me who don’t share my beliefs or lifestyle. My way…or the highway. In me I trust.”

That’s crappy.

Long story short, that dog barked at a stone, and I saw him do it.

Who isn’t afraid of the thing he doesn’t understand?

Not me.

What I know about Hitler…

World War II Pictures In Details: Adolf Hitler Laughing at a Vacation in  Harz Mountains

I watch scary movies.

Bad things happen in scary movies…but it’s fake bad.

It’s an imitation of bad.

I guess that it’s still bad, though….but…I know it’s fake.

I don’t know much about Hitler.

That’s real bad.

He was bad.

But…Germany needed a hero.

They were scared after WW1.

They were chastened.

Their economy was in the toilet and the world was turned upside down….so when Hitler came along and started spouting off all his crap, they bit down hard and went along for the ride.

He was their ticket to better times.

He had a plan to put them back on top of their game.

He had a plan to make Germany great again.

He even tried to incite people to take over the government!

This was at an event called the Munich Putsch where he tried to overthrow the Weimar Republic.

They put a gag order on Hitler, then, and told him he couldn’t talk to the German people in public….told him to shut up and stay away from everybody…put him in jail to make sure that didn’t happen.

He wrote Mein Kampf while he was in jail.

(That’s like the intellectual version of a great set of weights out in “the yard”…giving him some quiet time to write his “masterpiece”.)

So…I guess he was in jail for a number of years? From 1923 to 1927?

(That’s what I’d call a “well researched” blog, huh?)

Anyway….the economy in Germany was in the toilet after the first World War….then OUR economy crashed in 1929…and our banks failed….and we called in the loans we’d made to Germany to rebuild their economy…and Germany’s economy went down the toilet even farther…and by this time, Hitler could yell at all the Germans again….(AND THE JEWS WERE THE PROBLEM (!!!!) …and you know what the guy did from then on out.

They let him out of jail….he had his book finished….and it all hit the fan when he could once again speak to the hearts of a scared and angry Germany.

I don’t suppose that calling in all those loans made us very popular with the Germans, either.

People who are scared do stupid things.

We do stupid things to protect what we think someone else is trying to take away from us.

Fear doesn’t do much to build empathy.

You don’t want to walk a mile in another man’s shoes if you think the other guy stole your shoes and has been walking around in them for a while.

That whole “in jail” thing is fascinating to me, though.

They tried to stop this monster from communicating his brand of sedition.

They didn’t want him to insight a riot.

(I’m being silly, now, of course….I know how to spell “incite”….I just thought it was funny how the two different words are spelled…)

Incite.

You don’t get a chance to be too insightful when you’re being inciteful.

You’re too busy being hateful to be insightful.

I don’t know too much about Hitler.

He was a great speaker and was popular with the German people when they were going through a hard time.

I don’t know if he ever had a moment, though, when he said, “Who? Me?!! I didn’t tell them to light the furnace! I didn’t tell them to do that! It was all rhetorical….that stuff I was saying…I didn’t….WHO? ME?!!”

Man….Hitler was really popular.

Who saw that coming?

down to the ground

If I see a man running through the snow with a fully-grown wolverine, I trust what he has to say.

I’m just like that, for some reason.

It’s one of my “rules for life”….”trust the man with the wolverine”.

It’s a rule that hasn’t failed me yet.

Here’s a movie that Jenny and I watched the other day about “grounding“.

Grounding is making a reconnection with the energy fields found in the….ground….in the EARTH.

It’s as simple as taking off your shoes and walking around outside!

Of course, in the movie, the guy buries himself in the dirt…but that would just be a bonus.

You don’t have to completely submerge yourself in the EARTH to get the benefits.

Apparently, grounding calms you down and makes you feel better.

That must be why working in a garden is so satisfying?

The movie was filmed in Alaska.

(Bonus! I like Alaska!)

It’s worth watching just to see some of Alaska…even if you don’t want to take off your shoes and walk around in the dirt.

Now that I think about it, though, Alaska doesn’t look all that different than Idaho.

Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Isn’t it strange that we’re so “connected” through our social media and the internet…but so disconnected from the natural world?

Strange that we’re so disconnected that walking around barefoot could become a trend?

Goofy.

The movie was made by a guy named Steve Kroschel…he’s made a bunch of nature films over the years.

greasy shop manuals

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If a designer were to come into our home…and I say “if” because it would be terrifying for me and unnecessary for my wife (because she’s a good designer)…anyway…”if” that were to happen…and I hope it never does…but…if it happened…one of the first things they’d probably say is “you really need to get rid of those greasy shop manuals on your bookshelf”.

They’d tell me that it just doesn’t work for us visually.

Maybe they’d say that it harshed up the ambiance.

I don’t have a garage…so my manuals are on a lower shelf of the bookshelves…greasy and waiting for something to blow up so that I can use them again.

They remind me that I might be able to wrench myself out of a problem if I only have access to the wisdom of the ages found in their greasy pages.

Greasy things in the living room are just the most glaring example of my accumulation that I’d have to get rid of.

I don’t need a greasy and gleaming lighthouse to beaconize what getting rid of my pile of essentials would mean to the gentrification of our living room.

It’s all of my expendable essentials that I’d need the minute we got rid of them.

I guess I could change, though.

I can try.

I would need to “man purge” like the greatest metrosexual who ever walked the planet.

I’d need to trade wrenches and sockets for a special humidity-controlled drawer in the bedroom where I kept my watch collection.

I’d need my own space in the bathroom for all my grooming products.

I’d need to schedule more mani-pedi’s…more manicures and pedicures…(“manipedis”? Maneeeeeee”pete”eeees?!).

I’d need to learn how to smell better.

I’D HAVE TO HIRE A MAN TO DO ALL MY DIRTY WORK!

Scary.

We were eating dinner at the table last night and I looked over to see the VW Beetle manual that I haven’t used since I was in my early 20’s.

It was easier to find a Beetle back then.

It’s not any easier to work on a Beetle now than it was then…but it sure was easier to find one to work on.

“My 20’s” was a while ago.

These manuals are history, though.

Every greasy fingerprint jogs my memory.

Every past repair ties me to a different time.

“Tying me” to a different time doesn’t have a positive effect on my bookshelf design.

Writing about how to avoid people focusing on all my crap doesn’t avert anyone’s gaze, either.

Why do I do this?

I better start designing my watch collection drawer.

I better figure out my revolving tie rack.

I better throw a towel over my greasy shop manuals.

That would work!! A towel! Why didn’t I think of that earlier!

I’m safe again.

I won’t have to learn how to smell better after all!

Wheeeeeeeeee!

wishful

OK.

So….here’s the recent order of events: Go to the doctor after work to find out what the weird groinal popups are….find out they’re my new hernia that I got earlier in the day loading a heavy box into the back of the Jeep…then…the following Saturday, in the early stages of my injury, buy some books about trail running at the used book sale/store.

That’s what I call “wishful”.

Now, I’m waiting to find out when I can have surgery to fix the bulge and things can get back to normal.

And, when I’m waiting for things to get back to normal, I can read about running.

That should be a motivator.

Does anybody talk about being an “armchair runner”?

That’s what I’ll be….for a while.

Here’s a video made 2 weeks before the beginning of the quarantine.

A long run and a dinner with friends looks fun.

Pandemic hernia?

Nah.

No fun, either one.

I’ll take the run, any day.

Winners Never Quit

Donald Trump Business Failures | Time.com

I had a book when I was younger called “Winners Never Quit”.

Published in 1970, it was a book about different athletes who persevered over an assortment of obstacles and succeeded in their various sports.

It made a big impression on me.

I’d run….throw….tackle…and think, even if my results weren’t “world-class”…even for an 11-year-old…that “winners never quit”…and I’d persevere.

I’d keep working at playing.

I’d turn it up a notch…and play harder.

Winners never quit: Pepe, Phil: Amazon.com: Books

I was a “winner”…just like all the guys in the book.

(“Guys in the book…”? I just realized that this book was only about the guys in the book! I guess that Phil Pepe wrote it for guys….but these days we’d have persevering men and women in a book like this. Women do persevere, too…right? But…I digress.)

Where was I?

Oh, yeah…winners never quit.

That being said…what’s going on with the world these days?

Anything interesting or strange?

Who’s a winner? Who’s a loser? Who can trust anything or anyone when everything is questioned and distrusted?

Do the math!

Dig deep!

Ferret out the people who’d steal and lie and cheat to achieve their goal…and then remove them from your path!

Don’t let anyone set your destiny on an alternate and less satisfying path!

Not even if it’s 78 million “anyones”.

The world is a cool place.

The world is a kooky place.

Winners Never Quit was written in the days before steroid scandals and all the other kinds of cheating we often see today in sports. It was written when we could still be sincere and trusting and we lacked our now strong ability to always expect the ironic or sarcastic punchline. Why, back in the day, they’d take away your Olympic medals if you’d played semi-pro baseball (Jim Thorpe) and a hero was a hero was a hero. We didn’t know any better. We didn’t have the information. We didn’t have the internet. We could take most things at face value.

Now, we can’t know what face value means anymore.

(My oldest son used to say “I can’t know” when he was little. Pretty funny…)

It’s a skill to spread distrust and confusion.

It’s by design that things are shaken and constantly in flux.

We still want to buy the snake oil if the salesman has a good rap.

Winners Never Quit?

Please.

Just stop.

Puhhhhhhlease!!

Stop the Insanity!