damnit!

The holidays.  A time filled with music, joy, shopping, drinking, eating, giving, receiving, and reminders… Ah, yes reminders.  Little memory triggers that may occur on a daily basis during the rest of the year, but for some unknown reason hold a special power in November and December.

Some very special triggers are annual.  No other time.  Some are the best.  Some are the worst.  And some are like Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. I don’t mean to judge but what the hell is all the hoopla about this passion for chemically induced seasonal flavor.  I don’t get it… well actually I do…but I am NOT a follower of the pumpkin spice stampede.  But I understand the passion and love for some if not all things Thanksgiving and Christmas.

First is the turkey.  I eat turkey nearly every week.  but the roasting and the smells that fill the house are usually seasonal.  I don’t know why.. probably because it takes a family to consume a bird.  Probably because I can’t microwave a 15 pound bird.  Probably because I can’t fit the turkey roaster in the dishwasher.  But for me is goes one step beyond the meal.

soo

It is the ritual of taking the carcass, the boiling and bone picking and the making of the best soup I ever tasted.  Thanks  Mom, you really hated to cook… but you really loved to pinch pennies.  There are many good things that came from your frugality.  This holiday gem is the best for me.

There is no carcass this year.  It’s ok.  I relish in the memory.

Second, the lights.  I love the lights.  During my adult life I have only done the “full-Griswold” once.  My first year of marriage.  Every nook and cranny.  The roof and house lines… and though I don’t do that anymore… I do travel the streets in search of the best.  And how can I not.  I am from Kansas City.  That is all I need to say for those of you from Kansas City understand that the “Paris of the Plains” is the home of the greatest shopping center Christmas light display in the world.   I won’t argue with you.  I will just say that the Country Club Plaza has no equal in my little holiday mind.    Just trust me when I say… pictures do not do the Plaza justice..    I am so thankful it is a part of my memory bank.

I missed the lighting again this year.  It’s ok.  I so enjoy the memory.

So many pleasant memories.

As I age I find that memories are enough.  I don’t want to live yesterday again… I just want to smile because I was a part of it.

And of course there are the moments that give me pause. Because now my life includes tragic and sad moments.  Things from yesterday that I cannot change, things I have accepted, but things which will cause me to cry out.

Though I am not a big shopper for the holidays.  I am aware that others may be.  And I do have 5 dogs and 3 cats.  And they require constant spoiling.  So I do go shopping.  I do not like to go shopping.  But my animals are not sensitive to the holidays.  They are sensitive to feeding times and play times.  So shop I must.  And I always grab a cart when I shop for the critters.  I have to.  I will just grab an armful and a hand basket when I shop for me.  But when it comes to the kids, well it requires the cartage of bags and boxes of some weight.

Let me introduce you to my little friend–

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We met in the parking lot.  Discarded like an unwanted animal.  Left to find its way home, lest some caring patron or hired gun would come searching and return it to the home for wanted grocery carts.  This cart had no business being in this place at this time.  So I grabbed it.  I had to.  Those of you who have followed my irregular blog my understand why.

You can get a refresher here …………

https://casacaninetulsa.com/2013/12/03/now-i-remember/

So I decided it was time to renew the purpose and mission of this 4-wheeler.   Off we went.  Past the holiday displays… the racks of candy, cookies, toys, impulse “as-seen-on-TV” displays…. wait is that a Chia Head… wow, how cool is that.

Stop renewed focus… don’t get sidetracked.  All of the fun, meaningless stuff that Michelle loved.  Seriously, a brilliant woman with a penchant for all things tacky.  (that could be why she married me).  Remember the dogs and cats.  On to the pet food aisle.

Tasty treasures, Meow Mix, Rawhides, Chunky beef stew.. filling the cart.  Grateful to have one.  Then to the self check-out aisle.  Staying focused.  No other things to buy.  Get to the vehicle and unload.  Hurry.  Hurry.  I could feel it…  I had to hurry.

Open the trunk… Unload.  Return Cart.

Damnit.  Damnit……… I actually cried it out loud in the store parking lot.

I was a miserable, selfish, sh!##y husband.    Damnit.

I returned the cart to its home… And I went home.

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I wish I had a turkey carcass and trip planned to Kansas City.

I don’t but I am now at peace.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

tanksleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s all downhill from here.

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I use to love to ride my bike.  I have not enjoyed that for a long time.  But there was a time.  Century rides (100 miles) in Colorado… Denver to Colorado Springs.  The Springs to the Royal Gorge.  Long, grueling rides.  And the very best part… coasting at some ridiculously dangerous speed heading down the mountain.  Tuck down low and let it all out.  It was like flying for me.

The climb was a GRIND.  But, I love going downhill.  I won’t lie to you.  I feel the wind in what little hair I have when I head downhill.  And unexpected small stings on my forehead and cheeks.  It reminds me of an old joke my Mom told me once… or several times.  “How do you tell you are talking with a happy motorcyclist?”   How?  “By the bugs in his teeth?”  I love going downhill.

I am now an urban dweller.. I don’t really ride anymore.  My life on 2 wheels has been traded in for romps around the park with 4-legged companions.  But every once in a while I return to the hills.

I arrived in front of the school this morning.  Fridays are the days I teach/advise at a high school work study program.  I am always the first to arrive on Friday.  I open the school, prepare for the student arrival… enjoy a cup of coffee.   It is coasting at a slow pace.  I nice time of the day.  Today was different.

I park my car as always,  at the curb by the front door.  Coffee in hand, I retreat to the rear of my car and pop the trunk.  I have a few items to carry in this morning.  While bending oer and head inside the trunk… there is a voice.  I look at me phone… did I butt dial someone.  Nope.  Screen is blank.  I return to retrieving my trunk treasure.  The voice from nowhere… again I check my phone.  NADA, nothing.  And again the voice.  And I do a 180 to discover a woman in a wheel chair.

“Good Morning” say I.

“Good Morning, do you know where the library is?”  I am asked.

I do, and we chat for just a moment.  I know where I am.  I know without looking, as I face her, what is now to my back for the next three blocks.  She is facing it.  I am remembering it. It is a gentle walk for someone on foot.  But it is all uphill.

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“How can I help you?”  She responded, “Can you help me up this hill?”  And so it began.  Our 3 block relationship.  We did not converse, other than for me to share with here the location of the Tulsa Downtown Library.  One block, two blocks, Three blocks, FREE.

It’s all downhill from here, farewell.

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Enjoy the wind in your face.  And the bugs in your teeth.

 

 

Are you Pro-Choice….

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could. . . .”     Robert Frost

I hear the arguments.  I feel the passion, and know the venom.  It is visceral and it is getting more intense every day.  Or so it seems to me.  It is often so ugly.  Seemingly sane people quickly become just the opposite.

I don’t think I know a person that is without a side on the question… “Are YOU pro-choice?” And I expect in this approaching election year in the United States that I will hear this question asked multiple times.  Probably Every day.  EVERY FRICKEN DAY!!

Are you pro-choice?

Someone will  preach or teach or beseech or overreach.

Someone will hate or relate or debate or instate.

Some will hide, some will chide.

Certainly someone will get hurt.

Because all too often I only want to hear or do what I want to hear or do.

So in the shadow of this questioning.  I boldly make this statement.  I am pro-choice because God is pro-choice.

I don’t mind if you don’t believe in God… that is your choice.  I do believe in Him, that is my choice.  I don’t mind if you stop reading now… that is your choice.  I will continue to write… that is my choice.

I am pro-choice because God is PRO-CHOICE.    God has always been for choices.  It is in choices that freedom flourishes.  Believers can choose to believe.  Atheists are free to say no.  I hear all the time, people exclaim “this is a free country, I can choose what I want to choose.”  Well let me say, if ever there was an argument for this country being created in the image of the glory of God, for me it is resident in that very freedom to choose.  Freedom of choice,  pro-choice, is among the most Godly and holy of my life experiences.

What I find to be the forgotten factor.  There are consequences to both good and bad choices.  People who are not necessarily believers use politically correct labels…. like Karma. But call it whatever you would like to call it… Call it nothing at all… Call it the Truth… Call it a lie… What you call it is your choice.

I can’t pretend that what I choose is not without consequences.  I have spent decades chasing and honing and narrowing down what I believe.  I have spent decades making good and bad choices.  I have made both types of choices in the past day I am certain.

Consequences are the fruit of our decisions.  Plant an apple seed, I expect an apple tree.  Plant an apple seed, will I wonder where the oranges are.    Spend your day angry…. guess what fruit you will bear.

You can call it coincidence.  You can say it is a random occurrence.  If you wonder why things are as they have become…. well just continue to wonder.  I don’t necessarily have an answer that can address a one pointed question.  I can’t explain why some things are what they have become.  “It is what it is.”  This is the harvest of my generation..  But is it really?  Could it be that it is what it is as a RESULT of a Choice?   Could my obesity be the result of my bad food and exercise choices?  Or is it what it is because of a bad gene pool?  “Damn, where did all this fat come from?”

And so I return to look at the choices I have made.  Choices made freely, most often without care, frequently without advice of friends.  Some made habitually, some learned and repeated, some learned and ignored, all are choices.  God guaranteed my my ability and right to choose.  And so it is written…..

“The Choice of Life or Death  Deuteronomy 30:18-20”
…I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Yup… you got the Power in the Choice.  Choose Blessing or curse, receive life or death.  God is so Pro-choice.  Some things with God are indeed a mystery.  What I believe he sets before me is to make choices that will bring glory and a life abundant.

God is Pro-choice!

Choose Life! So choose life in order that you may live…

The God I know is Pro-Life.

It is what it is.

 

Somewhere under the rainbow…..

Somewhere under the rainbow…..Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet….

I see them everywhere.   Rainbow colors.   They are not thought of as the marker to a pot of gold.   They are rarely connected to unicorns anymore,  They are, it seems, the new representative of the unspoken acceptance of a now “legal” lifestyle.

So many folks have washed  their Facebook profile pictures with this rainbow flag symbol.

rainbowflag

We are it seems, awash in the rainbow spirit.  Are you “fer it or agin it?”  Whichever side is chosen, there will be arguments.  There will be stands taken.  There will be anger.  There will be joy.  There is the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.   There will be divisions.  It is the the world we live in.

But wait there’s more……….

Somewhere under the rainbow another battle begins on an emotional, historical, and very real issue to so many.  It’s an exorcism in the making.  I sit in awe and wonder.   I am saddened.  I am not surprised.  A reason to rise and fight is often robed in many symbols.  I do not have the energy to judge it… I just observe the battle raging.  It will get uglier.

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We are it seems, awash in the rebel spirit.  Are you “fer it or agin it?”  Whichever side is chosen, there will be arguments.  There will be stands taken.  There will be anger.  There will be joy.  There is the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.   There will be divisions.  It is the the world we live in.

And why do we fight…

Well here is my deal.. I am created in the image of God.  Therefore His character and His characteristics reside in me.  When I recognize that, and live that, and honor that… my life is more often filled with joy, with peace, with a desire to live in unity.

Here then are my 2 takeaways from all of this flag waving.

1.   John 13:35  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  the counterpoint… live in the spirit of division and people won’t know anything about God and His purpose for those who love Him……or those He desires to be with.

2.  Symbols have power.    Symbols do represent what people believe… because God set up symbols before me… it is what God does… it is part of His character… I am in that image, so are you.. I believe..  Why else would folks fight over a flag or a color scheme? Genesis 9:13.  I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.

rainbowreal

 

May you find peace under the rainbow.  May you know the covenant Maker.

Oh, yeah…. what the heck in indigo anyway?

Numbered

My days are numbered.

Your days are numbered.

A man’s days are numbered. You, God,  know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. So now look away from him that he may rest, until he has lived the time set for him like a man paid to work.  Job 14:5-6

When my wife died, it was a surprise.  I left our house one morning in November, 2009. Michelle was a vibrant 44 year old woman.  By the time I got home after work, she was gone. Drowned in the bathtub of our house. . . passed out in the tub, drifted below the water, and slept.  There was no countdown, no expectation of  departure.  I had not ever considered a number.

Two years ago, Mom was a completely different story.  After 90 plus years the clock just ran down.  No rewinding.  No surprise.  The departure was quiet and graceful, much like she lived her life.  She did not know the exact number, nor did I, but it came and went without incident.

But you Joanna (only you know who your are by this name), you are an anomaly.  I don’t know your number.  I do know it is smaller than I wish it were.   I know is it a very real and tangible number.  I know if I don’t see you soon, my next glimpse of you will be on the other side of the curtain.  And so I must honor the number and I will tell you what I would share with the world if ever asked to write your Eulogy.  Since you have not passed… I hope you find this an encouragement.  In the weird and wonderful way you understand the things I say.  God knows I appreciate that quality in you.

If there were a service, this is what I would rise to say… and since you would be ashes, you would not be able to stop me.  I confess my biggest challenge is deciding which tense to pen this someday Eulogy in…. but to the one I love… you will know what I mean.

I am here to honor my friend Joanna B.    meandjb

I love this woman.  She was never easy to get to know.  In fact she was downright secretive and initially reclusive.  And frankly, a pain in my rather over sized ass.  But I knew from our first Facebook moment, this was a very special woman, one with whom I had a rare and explainable connection.

Our first 3 meetings, were never shows… a rooftop brunch, a day at the dog park, and brunch again.  Our relationship spanned nearly 2 years of “friending” and and “unfriending” on Facebook.  Yet through all of these non-times, there was humor, and insight, and laughter and tears.  Joanna you are a remarkable woman.

Eventually we would have our face to face times together.  I so enjoyed being with you.  You are a smile maker.  Thank you.

Joanna you loved stuff that I loved.  You didn’t love stuff that I loved.  You are specific, and directed, and focused, and I am really not any of those things.  Yet you enjoyed our time together, as did I.  And you are caring.  Oh my, you are so caring.  I knew it when we first met.  And I knew very early that you cared about me.

But I believe, it was with the birth of your first grandchild that you once again became the woman you were meant to be.  You are love and kindness manifested.  You became the woman that God intended for you to become.  You and Boo.  That little man was the right man for your life.  I am so grateful that I caught a glimpse of you as that beautiful woman, before your number was called.  Though I must brag and say I knew that quality and that woman by day two of our facebook lives.  Long before you were ready to own it.

JB, you are a delight.  I will miss you much.  We shared together the sudden and ugly loss of our spouses through terrible and unforeseen accidents.  You are a loving mother and grandmother and friend.  And you have left a mark on my heart.  I am thankful, and honestly I am really upset that I will have to miss you.  But I will learn to deal with it.  I will see you again.  You will have my number.

A step away from my cowardice

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I saw a quote last week that I must paraphrase.  “How important must a person be to elevate their murder to being an assassination”  You get the drift.

“As Charleston gradually lays to rest nine shooting victims from last week’s church massacre” The report on the AP wire read.  And I say, Truly this is/was a planned act of randomly targeted hate and cowardice.

I was at one of those hotels this morning.  You know the ones that have rooms and also include a free breakfast in the little dining area.  This morning I was at one of those places. So I grab a biscuit, a glass of juice, and a cup of coffee..  and I sit to watch the morning news.  Most folks watch some sort of TV in the morning, The Today Show, Fox and friends, CBS whatever…….   I am not one of those watchers except in unique circumstances.  I sold my TV over 2 years ago.  This morning was a unique circumstance for me.

This morning’s television topic.  The Charleston massacre and the recent burning of 3 Black churches in the South.  And I began to cry.  This all makes me so sad.  This is a continuation and it is just the beginning of the atrocities I believe.  People hating people for no good reason.  I do not expect it to get better.  Cowards are everywhere.  If they were brave, like soldiers, they would put their names on their actions… and face the consequences.  Cowards take lighter fluid to ant hills.

When I was growing up in Kansas City, Missouri, I use to burn ant hills.  As a prepubescent, I would go to our garage, find the charcoal lighter fluid, find an ant hill, spray it with fluid, drop a lit match…. the ants never knew what hit them.  They would writhe in pain and die.  It was fun to do this.. until is was fun no longer.  I couldn’t stand the action.  What was I doing?  Why did I do it?  It made no sense to me.  It was planned act of randomly targeted hate and cowardice.  I walked away from my foolishness, my ignorance, my cowardice.

So I am enjoying my biscuit and juice and coffee.  I am not enjoying the news of the morning.  People killed by a coward.  Assassinated.  I am getting sadder.  I am in public.  My eyes are tearing up.  I am disgusted.  I am appalled.  I am filled with rage.  And suddenly I remember, I am not alone.  I look over to see the couple at the next table.  My God, it is THEM.  THEY are right fricken next to me, and they have seen my tears and sadness.

Should I run.  Should I hide.  Should I pretend I just had something in my eye.  Get up and leave?  What the f@#K should I do.  They are BLACK people, a Black couple, right next to me.

So I look them directly in the eyes… I put my name on it.  I look at them, and I know that they know that I know that they are Black people.  I say, “I am so sorry.”

And they say. “thank you.”

And in this moment, I walked away from my fear.  I am NOT a coward in the moment.  I am Bob Fulton, Man of God, lover of people, griever for those who suffer.

And we talk.  And we never ask each other’s names… we are hotel lobby friends.  Passers by and passers through.  But we talk from the heart.

He is a barber at a “black barber shop”  — his words

Since the church shooting he mentioned that a white guy had come to the shop last week and needed to use the restroom.  Very odd for a white guy to be in this neighborhood.  They said yes.  However they could not help but wonder if this stranger might be assembling a gun while in the restroom and come out shooting.  Copycat, copycat.  Nothing happened.  But he could not help but wonder.

He could not help but wonder if he would be in the room when the next coward came to visit a group of Black folks.  I was saddened that though he and his wife were absolutely at peace in the skin they lived…. there are people who hated them for skin pigmentation.

We spoke for about 15 minutes.

And I shook both their hands.  It was NOT a particularly brave moment for me.  But in that moment I was a coward no more.

Three people brave enough to be who we were suppose to be.

Today I lived…. A step away from my cowardice.

Crappie… crappy….crappie

Crappie!!

That my friend is how we met.  On Facebook.  We were both fans of George Takei.  Oh My! And one day around 3 years ago he posted some toilet humor cartoon with a fish.  I don’t recall the joke.

But I remember what I typed in the reply line.  And I replied “Crappie”  (for the non-initiated, a Midwest freshwater pan fish similar to a perch, and actually pronounced Croppy) But it looks like it should be pronounced Crappy.  And it really was a perfectly funny response to the “fish turd” joke.  And apparently  you were in a laughing kind of mood…. and you “liked” my comment.  You and several other absolute strangers.  And I felt good and that was that.

BlacknoseCrappieNorrisNegus

But that was not that.  You mustered up the energy to message me and asked to be my friend.  Now I must say… I was attracted immediately to your picture.  And I hoped you were not some Nigerian scam artist, targeting my massive American wealth.  Fortunately it was my humor that you were after.  And we became friends.  You moved outside of your comfort circle… and friend-ed a stranger.  Someone you would never have to meet.  And we would joke and we laughed and just enjoyed each other…. and then came the second day.  And someone you thought would be a random, never meet, make me smile kind of guy from some distant land…. well…. if I may put words in your mouth… “Holy Sh*!, the guy lives in Tulsa, less than 30 miles from my Owasso home.”  Spoiler!!

The first months were delightful.  We were funny together.  We never met.  We planned on it, we never followed through.  There were discoveries and journeys via phone, text and facebook.   We we members of similar “clubs”  The multiple dog owner club.  The I lost my spouse to a horrible accident club.  The quick wit/funny club.  The on a spiritual journey club.  The enjoy a good wine club.  And the being in a relationship is exhausting and leave me alone clubs.

Crappy!!!!

So during “our” first two years, I think there were 3 befriending and 3 unfriending events on Facebook.  We were together.   We were silent and apart.   We lived alone.  After a period, there would be a tap on the door, an open moment, with smiles, laughter, and even one meet for brunch event.  Two hours at the cafe in Utica Square.  Delightful, refreshing, for both of us I believe.  And I will add…. glorious for me.  You were just a joy to be with and talk with.  You are so attractive… what a wonderful breath of fresh air.   And then you would “disappear.”  For those moments, closeness was not to be a part of your life.  I was asked to lose your number.  I had not “done” anything, it just was NOT time.

But there were big changes coming.  You became a Grandma.  And frankly, you changed I think.  “Boo” changed you.  That little boy was a big life changer.  I will not attempt to put words in your mouth, nor outline the changes.  Nor even suppose to understand, having never been neither a parent nor obviously then a grandparent.  But I will say, your world exploded and expanded.  And around a year ago, I became a part of your new expansion process.  I will be forever grateful.  Though our together times are infrequent, they are a part of us…. and for me they are wonderful.

We have indeed become friends over the last year.

We have done business together.  You have entrusted me to sell things for you an Ebay.  I have been blessed financially because of “us.”

But more importantly, you have given me some firsts and lasts.  The kind of things that will linger in my brain for the remainder of my life as I think of you.

Our date at the Tulsa state fair.  You where there… for my first ever scorpion and meal worm pizza.  I will think of you every time I am stung by a scorpion.  It will be our dance.

And you are the last woman to let me in her bed.  You were not in it, you were on the couch. Because after and evening in your home, with conversation, dogs, a beautifully cooked meal, jinga and yahtzee, and too much wine… you took my car keys and safely tucked me in.  Among the many reasons, I love you for that concern and level of sharing.

And the truth is, I don’t remember any dates in our together time.  Couples often remember dates and times.  I will for the moment say that I now will remember one.  June 2, 2015.  I was suppose to visit you at your home, I had to postpone.  However, during the evening we did speak on the phone.

It was so nice to hear your voice.  You just cause me to smile every time we speak.  You are just a light.  I am not always good at listening, though I try.  And I am not always good at remembering unless I write it down.

This is my June 2, 2015 memory.  This is what I heard.  “liver disease” and “auto-immune” and “terminal” and “six months.”

I promised you I would not feel sorry for you.  I don’t.  But I do adore you.  I do love you.  I will be here or there for you.

Maybe while there is still time… we can escape Tulsa together.

Maybe a trip to Grand Lake.

Maybe

Crappie.