Randy at Martin Guitar

Randy at Martin Guitar

Friday, July 22, 2016

Layers of connection

This week was the last face-to-face for the class, and after next week's conclusion online, we are done now until August.  We have been engaged in a clinical practice with groups class, and I teach the class as parallel process:  training the group leader through the process of a group.  Several students were on tap to lead during the final practice lab.  At completion of an activity, from my perspective of sitting eye level with the strings connecting us to each other, it struck me as a metaphor for what we were trying to accomplish.  The more we interacted, the more layered and complex the levels of string became, but as one student also noted:
This makes you see it is really complex, but it is really simple.
We talked about how to take this awareness out of the classroom, and into our communities, agencies, nation...What kind of strategies would enable us to co-create the kinds of relationships outside of the class as we had managed to create in the class throughout the summer?
My mind tends to always go the the Shreveport-Bossier City Community Renewal program.  They use a systematic approach, based on particular principles, that can be replicated.  In shorthand:
What kind of world do we want?  What kind of society makes possible that kind of world?  What kind of community makes possible that kind of society?  What kind of family makes possible that kind of community?  What kind of person makes possible that kind of family?  What kind of environment makes possible that kind of person?  What do we have to do to make possible that kind of environment?
We challenged ourselves to continue the kind of thinking that has brought us to this point in our lives and common work, and to put that kind of thinking into action in our lives.  "Change starts by shaking the whole tree" (Mack McCarter, 2013).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Road Trip: Iron Hill Brewery in Voorhees, New Jersey

While in Philadelphia, we stayed across the river in Mt Laurel, New Jersey and were just about a 15 minute drive to see my friend's mom.  I have known her for a while now, and even stayed at her house on one of my adventurous road trips with her daughter.  We took Betty to lunch to celebrate Jane's birthday in absentia.   While Rand is your typical meat and potatoes kind of guy, I had a pizza with fig, prosciutto, arugula, with balsamic glaze and Betty had a citrus chicken salad.  It was a celebration after all, so Betty had the merlot and I had the brewery's Pig Iron Porter--which was fabulous, I must say!  Rand allowed as how he, too, was celebrating with blackberry iced tea. 

 The splurge continued with a mountain of chocolate and ice cream--brownies topped with ice cream, chocolate, caramel, and nuts, which Betty and I could not finish in spite of our effort.
Back at the house, we caught up on all the doings and goings on of the grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc., most of whom I know or at least, know about.  In honor of Rand's planned visit to Martin Guitar, Betty brought out her hand-made vintage canjo.  Who says Jersey is not a happening place?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Texas sunsets

Something about Texas sunsets fascinates me, like sunsets no other place.  I would sit out on the west deck most evenings and watch the sun finally sink behind the trees in the pasture.  Colors would range from reds, oranges, and pinks to deep blues and purples.  Two nights in a row, it was stormy weather and the clouds would turn dark, with deep orange skies from the reflected dust, and the rain was visible in the distance.   
It was hot--over 100 several days--but generally dry and thus, not sultry like Mississippi.  Still, I would be perspiring in the heat.  The east deck was cooler as it was in shade and the breeze blowing on that side of the house, and while I enjoyed looking at all the flowers blooming around the deck, it was not a sunset...and, I could not see Rio grazing in the pasture, or count the hummingbirds that had discovered the new feeder. 

The same night the skies had been such a deep orange, in the time it took me to click the shutter again, the orange was overshadowed by the deep gray of the rain that had muted the dust flecks. 
Like drawing a curtain across a stage, the lights faded.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day 2016

Mom and I made a little road trip last Tuesday to Wichita Falls, to pick up deck stain, have lunch, and do a little shopping.  We will repeat our trip in the morning, because we need more deck stain, and another lunch, and one can just not have too many mother daughter road trips at this point in our lives.
As usual, it has been more than I can accomplish in the last 11 days since I arrived, and more than I will be able to accomplish in the 3 remaining days.  I took time today to drive over to Elbert and put a 4th of July remembrance on my brother-in-law's grave.  Lynn served in Viet Nam, and as a result of exposure to Agent Orange, he died at the same age that I am now.  My Sis always said he loved his country, loved his family, and loved to travel, so it just felt right to take that 30 minute drive and say thank you. He always thought I was a little bit crazy, so I sang "American the Beautiful" and the "Star Spangled Banner" and I think he was probably laughing, since I cannot sing, but smiling because we might have been more alike than anyone realized.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On being home again...

 I have been off the grid of late, and there is this teeny little window of opportunity.  I am thinking about how often that happens in "real life" and we fail to appreciate it.  I have finally been able to locate my iPad just right, and by standing on one leg while wearing a copper bracelet and wearing a tin foil hat, secure a signal that has actually enabled me to use the Internet to do some vital needed research.  I admit it, I am superstitious and afraid if I move the iPad, I will be adrift in the land without Internet again, so I am perched on the side of the bed, stretching across 18 inches to reach the keyboard, fearful to breathe lest my signal disappear into the gorgeous Texas night sky.

I arrived "home" in Graham Friday morning after an overnight in Arlington, and picking up my great nephew from church camp at 8 a.m.  Sis and her grandson were off to Colorado for the annual two week camping trip with her late husband's family and I am here to be back-up "fetcher and toter"--another leg in the journey of uncharted territory.

Four days into the two weeks, and I have likened it to the non-custodial parent having the kids for the once a month weekend visit.  It is always fun and games, because NCP (non-custodial parent) does not have the same responsibilities and the kids just get to have fun.  So, mom and I have had way too much fun because she just wants to hang out with me.  I keep looking up to see her doing things she does not do....walking down to the corral because she wanted to watch me feed Rio...getting up at 7 this morning to come see if I was "ready to go to town yet."

It is the two-edged sword.  At times like this, it is the mother I remember, and with whom I spent so many wonderful times.  I want her to enjoy more, to try more, to do more.  And, perhaps, it is also that we need the balance--that we give and take so as to make the best of what sometimes is a no-win situation.  I know my sis carries the burden day in and day out, and I also know that most of the time she does it joyfully and willingly.  She is just turned that way.

I love doing what it is that I do and can do, and tend to think it is the all important "system" and how honoring that keeps us in balance.  I am not just playing or entertaining while I am here, no more than Sis is always working.  I mowed this morning, and weeded, and fed, and planted, and cleaned, and fetched and toted and waited...But, I also bought a bird feeder and seed, and a hummingbird feeder and nectar, and got Mom to help me put them up this evening.  Purpose is everything. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bridges in the Northeast

I am a bridge lover since I can remember.  I am fascinated by the variety of shapes, textures, materials, and designs of bridges.  Here are a few from the trip through Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
Bridge over Tennessee River at South Pittsburg, TN
Train bridge from Schuylkill, Philadelphia
Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Viaduct over Schuylkill, Philadelphia 
Ben Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia
Ben Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia
Train bridge over Delaware River from Betsy Ross Bridge, Philadelphia
Walt Whitman Bridge over Delaware River, Philadelphia 
Ben Franklin Bridge from Walt Whitman Bridge, Philadelphia 
Automobile Bridge over Delaware River, Easton, PA 
Train bridge over Delaware River, Easton, PA 
Train bridge over automobile bridge, Delaware River, Easton, PA 
Automobile bridge over Delaware River, Easton, PA
Footbridge, Wasena Park, Roanoke, VA