The forty year slap

Perspective is a beautiful thing but once in a while it really kind of slaps us. This was the case for me recently while I was reading a short story on social media. The author drew a conclusion which caused me to reflect and like a slap in the face, for just a moment the conclusion really had my attention.


The author stated in writing that the graduating class of 1982 had been graduates for forty years. Forty years, I thought and quickly did the math mentally. Holy crap people, that is correct. Forty years. Forty years. The impact was stunning like a Will Smith slap across the face and like Chris Rock I just stood there for a moment thinking. I even said to my lovely bride can you believe that this year I will have been a graduate for forty years? She looked at me with a, “Duh” expression clearly displayed on her face. You see she is my junior by a few and hasn’t gotten that forty year slap yet. I know there are some of you that are 50, 60, and maybe even 70 years slap recipients and you are likely thinking; “punk kid” right now. But please hear me out on this one, I think you may enjoy.


I thought about it for a few minutes remembering the last few days of school with many of my class mates and friends with whom I had endured 12 years of instruction drudgery. Ours was a small school and we knew everyone very well and were comfortable together. In the drudgery, the bond was forged and is strong to this day.

Like all graduates, we felt we had the world by the tail. I remember a teacher who was our class advisor telling us at the taking of our graduating class picture that this would be the last time that we would all be together at the same time for the remainder of our lives and that we should look around and remember that moment. I did so but at the time, as many of my classmates did, I remember thinking how full of crap that statement sounded. However; I get it now, the advisor like most of the time in those days was correct. Soon we found out that a couple would move on and leave this world just a year or two after that prophetic statement was made. Some others have moved on through the years and I try to make a mental note and think of each at that time.

Still, many of us tarry on and I associate with some still after all the years. This despite the fact that our little class of graduates has spread across the world now. When I see one of my old classmates we will normally greet and smile at our common beginnings. It has been a grand adventure for me and continues to be each and every day. Time goes fast and I must say what a wonderful journey it has been.


I recovered quickly following the forty year slap and returned focus onto tomorrow and what will be. It is good to remember and stay connected with where we are from but the excitement of life remains as it was forty years ago. It is in tomorrow, and the next, and the next after that. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you again as our paths may cross and we will laugh and catch up on goings on in our lives.

I know now just as surely as those young kids of 1982 marching proudly out the front door with wonder in our eyes, we still have the world by the tail. I hope to find you hanging on tight and running at a full speed forward just as fast as you can. Go Wildcats!!!


To that graduating class of 2022, get ready folks. Lace up your Vans, 2062 sounds far off, but it will be here quicker than you may think. My hope for you is that your adventure will be as grand as ours. It may seem like a stretch to you now but we are more alike than you know. Because you see, way back in the day, we wore Van’s too.


“Off the wall”, my young friends!!!

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Angels who protect


Every once in a while, if we listen, it becomes apparent that we do not travel alone. I have an angel very near who protects in the most unexpected ways. This is a tale of such a day when I and many around me were protected in just such a way. I needed only to listen.


The day was a beautiful one and I was intending to travel. I had been asked to tow a recreational vehicle with me for a little over three hundred miles as my journey took me. I agreed and on that beautiful morning responded to the area where the trailer and unit was parked. I backed up to the trailer and hooked on with my pick up which was to be my transport for the trip.


Now, for those not familiar with a towing hitch please allow me to describe the mechanical function. Mounted on the truck or towing vehicle is a ball hitch. It resembles a clinched fist at the end of a wrist, the top of the ball is wider than the shaft leading up. The hitch is on the trailer side and resembles an upside down cup which is a partial hour glass shape with the rim being more narrow than the inside of the cup. The rim has a section about one third the diameter of the rest of the rim. That section is flexible and moves out to allow the wider ball to slide into the cup as the trailer hitch is lowered. The flexible section can then slide forward once the ball is seated into the cup. The flexible section has a lock mechanism that allows the flexible section to lock into place forming a closed rim which secures around the shaft. This section allows the hitch and ball to form a secure attachment which will rotate as needed for the trailer to follow the towing vehicle.


So when I hooked onto the trailer that morning, I opened the flexible section and lowered the trailer hitch over the ball. Once seated, I moved the locking section forward into place and engaged the lock. I again raised the trailer to test the connection. The truck began to rise with the trailer indicating the connection was secure. I then lowered the trailer again, rotated the jack into the travel position, hooked up safety chains, the electrical lights cable, and tested them with the emergency and turn signal. Once completed I started on my way.


I pulled the trailer out onto the public street and began my journey. As I traveled along a secondary roadway not far from my start, I had a very real impression that I should check the hitch connection again. I call it an impression because it was a thought but I hadn’t thought it. I felt it, like I was being told that I should. In my mind, my own thoughts were resisting; “I just checked it when I hooked on and the truck raised with the trailer jack. The connection is good.” I thought and I ignored the impression and continued on my way. The impression did not go away but remained as a nagging feeling. I traveled about 5 miles to an intersection where I intended to enter an interstate freeway. This interstate freeway is a two and three lane high speed cross country route with speed limits set at 80 miles per hour. As I approached the intersection and entry ramp, again I had another impression, this one stronger and more urgent. It came as a matter of fact and not a suggestion. I felt; “You need to check that hitch again before you get onto the interstate!” So intense was this feeling that I simply could not reason it away. In my mind, or you know what, I might have even muttered aloud and I answered; “Ok; fine, I’ll check it!”


I pulled into a small dirt parking area just prior to the interstate interchange. I exited the vehicle walked to the space between truck and trailer, got down on my knees and looked up under the cup of the hitch. By this time I already knew there was a problem with the hitch connection simply because the prompting told me so. I just needed to figure out what the issue was. As I looked up under the hitch I saw that the flexible section was not in the correct position but was on the top of the ball. The hitch connection was open which would allow for the hitch to separate at any time the front of the trailer would have risen. Without doubt the connection would have separated at some point on my journey.


At seeing this I understood the urgency; there was an obvious problem that needed to be corrected. I again lifted the trailer hitch with the jack and moved the flexible section back so that the ball could pass through to the seated position. Once there, I reengaged the lock and, from my knees, I looked closely to insure the lock section was in the proper position and that the connection was secure and locked. As I stood, brushed dirt from my knees, and returned to the driver’s seat the nagging feeling left me and I was filled with warm confidence the danger was past. It felt like; “Good job buddy, now you’re good to go!”


I traveled the journey with no issues what so ever. How thankful I am for that warning from my companion who travels with me constantly. I shudder at the thought of what might have been without the assist.


Listening to my companion can be a challenge for me at times, I can do better and know that I should listen when spoken to. He is with me to protect!!!

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Connect the dots…

“So you never know who you touch. You never know how or when you’ll have an impact, or how important your example can be to someone else” A hand to guide me; Denzel Washington.

While functioning as a substitute or guest teacher recently I had the opportunity to listen to a commencement speech given by the late Steve Jobs at Stanford University in 2005. Perhaps you have seen it previously. One of the points made by Jobs in that speech came clear to me only two days later.


In the 2005 speech Jobs spoke about a calligraphy class he had taken at Reed College many years prior while he was dropping in on courses there and living as a homeless person. The class was not required because he was not enrolled in a program at the time. In fact he had dropped out of college so as to not waste his adoptive parents limited savings on his unclear educational track. It was simply of interest to Jobs but he really couldn’t see the immediate application of the knowledge gained to his life at that time.


Fast forward to another time when Jobs was part of a team of aspiring young personal computer builders associated with the early days of Apple Computer. Jobs gave credit for the knowledge he used in the design of “Font” as coming from that calligraphy class some 30 years prior. The same Font design is in use by not only Apple computers, but nearly all computer systems to this day. The knowledge he gained from dropping in on a college course has had dramatic impact on nearly all written documents from computer systems in use today. Take a look at your word processor tool bar. You see the one identified as Font? That is what Job’s was speaking of.


With that back ground consider this. I have adopted the attitude that life is a lifelong learning opportunity for all. As such I enjoy reading everything of interest and of enrolling in community education courses. Like Job’s himself most times I cannot see the immediate application of what I am learning. I just pick topics and classes that interest me. Currently, I am enrolled in a creative writing course with emphasis on fiction at a local university. As such I have learned a little about the writing process including terms such as Protagonist, Antagonist, Character and Plot development being some of those. I even have a plot in mind to create my own fictional novel. Will I ever complete that? Maybe, but it’s all about the learning adventure for me so we will have to see what comes down the road.


Regardless, the point of this Tale is to describe what happened two days later after watching the Jobs commencement speech.
I was again substitute teaching a class in a different school within the same district. It was mid-level science course. At the conclusion of class we had about 4 minutes prior to the bell ringing. A young lady approached me and asked if she could ask me a question? She then began to describe a relationship between two people who had mutual feelings for the other but neither had the courage enough to tell. So, over time both went their separate ways never knowing of the others interest or what may have been had they known. I must admit I couldn’t figure out where this question was going but I stayed focused with her. As the description continued she used the term “Protagonist”. Because of my drop in class knowledge, I realized the young lady was an aspiring author and she was running a plot development idea past me for my opinion. In fact, I confirmed she was currently taking a middle school creative writing course of her own and the plot she had described was from that class.


I enjoyed discussing her plot line with her for the remaining short time we spoke. I encouraged her to continue to develop her interest and talent. We parted with me saying that she had a “Great idea for a story, stay with it.”


I am under no illusions here, I know that this use of my recently gained knowledge of writing doesn’t compare to the impact of the computer developer of our age and Font used today by nearly everyone. I just connected the dots as he described and was able to have a meaningful discussion and give encouragement to a young mind following a dream.


Impact, who knows? I don’t remember the young ladies name but I know her story plot line. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it again someday. Is it possible that she could be a young JK Rowling, Toni Morrison, or Jane Austin who stuck with the pursuit of a dream because a substitute teacher knew what she was talking about and told her to, “Stay with it.”?

It is a possibility because we never know who’s watching or where our influence may take them but sometimes the dots connect.

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Just call him Larry

Living by the 5W’s of analysis; who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how. This is a tale of “Who” was that and “How” did you know? If not for clarity this instance, they were good for a laugh.


Last summer I was driving around the community exploring new areas with snow birding relatives. Snow birds are people who travel south for warmth during the winter seasons. We entered an area where there are some remote residences on the edge of a scenic national forest. As we made our way enjoying the sights and visiting, we observed a man and woman couple doing yard work near their fence which bordered the public roadway. The Conversationalist who was our driver on this day pulled up alongside the couple and stopped, he rolled down his driver’s side window and engaged the man in conversation which he initiated.


“Hi Larry”, he said, “What are you doing today?’
Larry looked up and responded, “Oh Just cleaning up some lawn items. What are you doing? ”
“We are just doing some exploring. Do you live up here?”
“Why yes we have been here for over ten years now, are you thinking of buying up here?”
“No, we’re just looking around the beautiful area and spending some time this afternoon and I saw you here.”
“Yes, it’s a nice area we love it. Well, enjoy your day.”
“Ok, will do, see you later.”
“Bye”


As our driver rolled up his window I asked,
“Who is that?”
To this he responded, “I have no idea.”
Confused now I said, “But you started the conversation?”
“I thought it was Larry but it wasn’t so I just went with it. I guess his name is Larry too.”
To this all in the car burst out laughing. It was so hard not to yell, “Hey Larry, have a nice day.” as we drove past the couple again on our exit. Since then it has been a running joke and a favorite story to tell.


Now fast forward about one year and our snow birding relatives ventured south again. We decided to once again go for a drive and stopped at a favorite local diner for lunch. It is a busy place and we needed to wait for about fifteen minutes until a table opened up. As we waited standing outside, I was hugging my wife from behind enjoying her closeness and the sunshine on my back, when two women exited the cafe.

My actions drew their attention to us and they smiled saying; “We have left a table for you. They’ll be out to get you soon.”
Seeing that one held a book in her hands, the Conversationalist said;
“Well thank you. Did you finish your book?”
To this the woman replied; why yes, I have just finished. It was quite a project but I have just finished writing it. Thank you for asking.
“No problem”, and a smile appeared on his face.
“Do you mind if I share a small part of it? A prayer really.”
“No, not at all. Go ahead.”
To this the woman recited from memory about two minutes of narrative from her writing which ended with her giving each of us her blessing.


I determined that apparently the woman has a close relationship with God and wrote a book about it. I thought it very nice that she felt her closeness with God and was willing to share with us a blessing from her heart. But a question was forming in my mind. Soon we bade her farewell and she was on her way.


After she had left, seeking understanding, I asked; “How did you know she was writing a book?”
“I had no idea.”
With knitted brow I just looked at him for an explanation.
He had noticed the book in her hand. When he asked, “Did you finish your book?”, he had meant did you finish reading the book in her hand.


Again, we all burst out in laughter but we were grateful for the blessing given.
Someone wondered out loud, “Who was that woman?”
The Conversationalist responded; “She must be Larry’s Sister.”

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Will you be…

Leadership and courage presents itself in the most unusual ways and normally in the most stressful of times. Such was the case when a young man, before my very eyes, stepped out of the common crowd among his peers and placed himself directly in the lime light center stage as it were. I am proud to have been witness to it.


The day was a recent one in a local Intermediate School that I was functioning as a guest teacher or substitute for the day. I had chosen the class because of it description and age group. The class, Drama and Theatre, the age group, sixth and seventh grade. I have always loved drama and theatre because the people involved are normally very outgoing, intelligent, and eccentric. Yes, the exact type people I enjoy being with.


On this particular day as part of the teachers lesson plan was an activity called “Improv”. For those not familiar with drama and theatre, an Improv Activity involves students on stage acting out parts they are making up as they go. There is an identified control person who manages the activity to maintain order. Once the acting begins the control person periodically will yell, “ freeze”. At which time the actors all freeze in place and another actor takes their exact place on stage and then the acting continues with a “resume” command from the control. The actors themselves determine the plot and they do this without script. They just make it up as they go and it can be very funny because each actor’s thoughts, mood, and talent come out in the most unexpected ways.


On this particular day I had begun the activity with the acting queue of, “fishing”. The acting began and the action lagged for a while. The students not comfortable with fishing quickly turned to violence on stage. Yelling, mock assault, chasing one another, conflict of every kind occurred time and time again.


It seems that the challenges of maturity in these grades, the emergence of unfamiliar hormone’s both testosterone and estrogen, the difficulties of honestly interacting with each other, and the fact that our students are constantly bombarded with violence is represented with their comfort levels. They are comfortable with violence and can easily act it out. After several stop and restarts which I intended to steer toward a story line and away from senseless violence, but they, the actors, would continue to gravitate back toward it. That is until the unexpected happened.


The act on stage involved two young ladies and they were acting as if in a Knights Court. A King Arthur type setting where a good Knight was to be rewarded for gallantry in battle by the Queen. The good Knight was kneeling on one knee before the Queen who stood before the good Knight, sword drawn and about to bestow some Knighthood honor when the control yelled, “Freeze.”


At this the next actor in line was a young man who ambled on stage and assumed the kneeling position before his Queen. Now, with the change in gender came a change in the interaction and direction of the script if there had been one. The controller yelled, “Resume.” At which the Queen just stood there looking at this young man kneeling before her. I was expecting a return to violence with a scream by the Queen; “off with his head” or such. But what followed surprised all including me.


The young man placed his hands together like he was holding a small box in both hands while kneeling on one knee before his female counter part. He looked up to his Queen with pleading eyes and said in a clear voice before all to see and hear. “Will you be my Valentine?”
At this there was a dead silence in the class room as the audience of peers evaluated what they had just seen. A shocked expression appeared on the Queens’ face. Her continued attempt to be the cool and collected teen she had just been was challenged in those five words. After a brief moment the class erupted in laughter and cheering for our brave Knight and his gallant effort to secure his Valentine. I found myself laughing cheering and giving applause to the young Knight.


“Freeze”, the controller yelled again as the Queen took a tentative step backward. Was this acting? Was it real? What should she do now right before her peers? These thoughts raced across the Queen’s face in expression. Her facial details had betrayed her thoughts. Although no sound of voice escaped her, watching the shy smile spread across her face the answer was given; “Yes, Sir Knight!”


Well done my young friend, you have the courage of a thousand…

Into the Sunset


The sun settled itself into the western horizon and I flipped down the visor to better see, I thought to myself, why am I always driving into the sunset with it’s blinding glare?


Being unable to see traffic around me, pedestrians, or the control lights of intersections that day, the thought was an irritable one as I squint into the glare. That is until I took more time to think about what that blinding glare meant for me.


Whenever possible I try to make an adventure of each and every day. I’m well aware that time is short and it seems to be fleeting fast. We so often allow ourselves to forget this fact or simply think, there is a guarantee in tomorrow, I’ll do adventure then. What foolishness this thought can be, because there is no guarantee.


What does adventure have to do with a blinding sunset glare you may ask. Well, I’d be happy to explain, for me it means I’m out there still at adventures ending track. To be driving home at sunset, tells me that I have made the most of that given day and the adventure that was allowed.


My thought today is simply this, driving home into a sunset glare is a blessing that I’m thankful for. If it continues to be my fortune, I’ll have so many more. On each to come as the sun sinks low, I’ll slow the scrambling pace a bit and flip the visor down. I’ll throw on some shades and move my helmet down, or maybe simply shade my eyes with a hand raised out and high. If I stare just long enough into the brightening glare, the sun itself will surely dip below horizons of the west. When that time arrives I may just see, the best of color yet.


If someday on your homeward bound, and from adventure would be my wish, you see me slowing down a bit and staring into the sunset glare, anticipation on my face. Smile with me as it just might be, that now you’ll understand.


Life, you just Gotta Live It!!!

Look, a Gaggle of Geese

There is a river in the Nez Perce National Forest of Idaho that is called the Clearwater. The river itself is appropriately named as the water cascading through that drainage is some of the most transparent I have seen.

Peering into the water from above you can easily see to the river’s rocky bottom which in the summer months has a rusted, copper, or dark tan color from algae growth under the water’s surface. Over millennia the river has cut passage through hard rock and now clears the way for Route 13 to flank its path winding and turning in a north or south direction through an amazing forested area.

If you are thinking that sounds like an excellent route for a motorcycle ride you would not be mistaken and in fact I have travelled that way with friends not long ago.

As I rode along enjoying the turns, the curves, wind on my face, the coolness of the air and the majesty surrounding us I caught movement off to my right. As I turned to look I saw a gaggle of seven Geese flying along that magnificent river. At first they were slightly below my position but they were traveling in the same direction as I and were gaining elevation. They had formed into that well known flying V formation and were traveling at the same speed.

Have I mentioned how hard it is to keep one’s eye on the road when absolute perfection is occurring right next to you? Well that was my dilemma and I did my very best to safely take in the scene. Imagine if you can seven graceful birds of brown, white, green, and tan each painted the same beautiful pattern flying in perfect formation with a back drop of a clear river cascading over rocks of copper and forested rocky hillside behind. Absolutely splendid!!!

I would hope that moments like this last forever in my memory even if for a short minute or two in reality. I watched in amazement at the grace as the gaggle paced me along my path until at last they began to descend and eventually splash down in that cool water creating a splash of white water droplets that flew outward away from their bodies as wings tucked into their sides.

I continued on along Route 13 anxiously waiting for the next miraculous sight from a straddle my motor. But somehow I think this one will stay with me for a while.

Life, you just have to live it!!!

A Step

As I gazed upward this morning at an incredible sight, I was reminded of the phrase; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong, 1969) he along with Aldrin and Collins, the epitome of bravery.

I think to myself, step out there today and do something special with this gift of a new day!!!

Drive Away

This morning I saw a local advertisement that asked simply; “Do you want to know the secret of a great drive?”


Now the game of golf has always been difficult for me. That darn ball never went where I was intending. This way, or that, or sometimes not at all. I tried, I really did, but in the end, despite advice and instructions, I always left the course more frustrated and angry than when I arrived.


I know I’m not alone in the frustration when I see or hear of golfers throwing into lakes, or slamming into the ground, clubs that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Recreation? I think not, at least for me, and my hat is certainly off to those who persevere.


Still this morning, when I read the advertisement enquiring about the great drive, I must admit I was confused by the photo of the golfer teeing off. I guess my perspective was a bit different than the advertisement intended.


You see I know the secret to a great drive and need no further instruction. Want to know too? Well ok, here goes.


I sit a straddle of her, move the kick stand up, fire the engine, kick her down once, twist throttle, and roll ponies away from that damn course.


“Ah,” now that is my idea of Recreation.

Coral Canyon and Pine Valley Mountain

Are you alive?

After watching a magnificent sunrise this morning I was having breakfast at a locals favorite. I just had to smile at the following conversation. Yes, I was sitting at the counter as per my usual. There is no such thing as eavesdropping at the counter as we’re all alone but among friends and all is fair game.

I heard a fellow down to the other counter end placing a telephone call on his cellphone. He said; “Well good morning Sir, I was just checking to see if you’re still alive?” Although I couldn’t hear the response given, apparently there was an answer, and it was in the affirmative. At which the man I could hear said; “Well good, ok then, see you it a few!”

As I smiled and looked around at a diner full of breakfast friends all laughing and talking with each other while drinking their morning cup of Joe. The thought came; it is wonderful to wake every morning with an opportunity of another day so we can try to get it right? What is better is to have someone who cares say; “Good morning, I was just checking…”

It’s a Snow Canyon Sunrise