Tuesday, January 28, 2014

fading letters

Receiving letters from loved ones is quickly becoming a bygone practice.  I enjoy social media just as much as the next guy, if not more, but I miss letters.  I still write letters to my cousin Beverly in Columbia, SC and my sister Jennie who lives in Rock Hill.  Now Beverly isn't online but Jennie is. Even though Jennie is on facebook and has an email address, I often prefer just going the snail route and put ink to paper.

I enjoy composing the letter, sticking it in an envelope, sticking a stamp on it, then take a walk to the mailbox.  I enjoy receiving letters too.  The majority of letters I get these days are junk mail and bills.  One of these days we won't need mailboxes at all.  Our grandchildren will look at an old picture and ask, "Grandaddy, what's that in your front yard?"  "That's a mail box, back before computers we had mailmen who picked up and delivered mail."  Yes, one of these days we'll more than likely have to explain the abandoned practice to a generation who never wrote or received a letter in the mail.

I have filed away a thick accordion folder filled with letters from family and friends that I've saved down through the decades.  Each are a window into my past, into my family's past.  I have a letter my dad wrote me while I was studying art in Atlanta back in 1985.  I have a stack of letters mom wrote me from '90 through '96 while Gina and I were living in Kentucky.  During that same time my brother and I wrote back and forth a good bit.  I have lots of precious letters from aunts and uncles who are now deceased.  I treasure all these old letters.  It's kind of sad to think that my children and their children will not have this experience.  They will not have such precious artifacts as old letter from loved ones.  They might have emails but hard drives die and digital information will be lost if hard copies are not made.  Messages, comments, texts - all data lost.

People don't write letters like they used to.  Good penmanship is a dying art because we are writing less and less.   So much is lost and so much will be a thing of the past.  I don't have to write letters, there are quicker cheaper means to tell people how we're doing and what's going on - quicker ways to tell someone that we love them.  I am finding myself writing letters for the enjoyment of it.  Maybe those letters I've written will be kept in a special keepsake place to draw from in years to come.   Maybe they'll pull a letter out every now and then when I am gone and remember our relationship and that I loved them.

Write soon.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lone Survivor

I finally found some time to break away and see Lone Survivor.  There's not much I can say about this movie without sounding trite.  I've been to gut wrenching movies before and this is one of them.  This not a bad movie.  This is a great film that's difficult to watch.  If you can recall the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, you know what I mean.

Once the firefight started, I quit thinking about actors acting. The actors became transparent and allowed the viewer a glimpse of real sacrifice.  Lone Survivor was shot like an action movie, but it's a documentary of men in war.

Peter Berg succeeded in making a movie about those who serve.  Lone Survivor isn't just about the one survivor who made it out, but it's equally about his brothers who valiantly died performing their duty.  This is a tough movie to watch.

This isn't an action movie. This is not entertaining.  This movie doesn't have stars.  This movie is a tribute to our heroes.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

no regrets

 never had a bucket list
any inclination or dream
no where to go
no place to see
anyone to be
no regrets
all i wanted
was you to love
all i wanted
 was to be loved
by you

Sunday, January 12, 2014

just read the book

Gina wanted to do something different for a date night and so I agreed to do something different.  She wanted to go see the stage version of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce at the Alabama Theater in Birmingham.

I don't have much to write about it because I fell asleep fifteen minutes into it.  Three actors played all the characters in the play.  Though I had read the book many times in my life, there was always enough to go back and glean from the story.  Having just three actors in this play seemed to make the story on stage hard to follow.  It wasn't long before I got tired of trying to follow it.  I understand that it was probably a budgetary decision to keep the cast slim, but the story I believe would have been better told with a full bus load.  I also didn't care for the Lewis character being played by all three actors, often simultaneously.  It just cheapened the experience for me.  At times I felt like I was watching a high school play.

When the play was over, Gina asked if I had indeed fallen to sleep.  That was a fifty dollar admission per person and I had taken a nice nap.  When she had asked me to go with her, she requested that I not walk out if I didn't like it...and I didn't. She asked me what I thought of what I did see and I told her that I could've given her a better time at home just reading the book to her.

The only thing good about this play is the poster that greeted us at the front door.  It was a hat tip to Rene Magrette.  If it were me though, I would've left off the 'Heaven' and 'Hell' text and allow the illustration to be ambiguous and a little more surreal...but that's just the graphic designer in me.  I like the poster art.

What could've been would be nicer.  If the director had interjected British dialects with these characters.  C.S. Lewis was a Brit after all and I can't read his work without hearing it in my head.  I did appreciate was that the fellow that played George MacDonald had a nice thick Irish brogue in the play.  I wished that they would've interjected more British flavor.

The sets were okay, but where's the bus?  Maybe that was just too tall an order for a stage play, but not having the bus is like having Dr. Who without his Tardis.  The backdrop consisted of rear screen projections.  It have been nicer if that Magrette feel of the poster was carried over in the images.  The heaven and hell of Lewis' The Great Divorce are surreal places.  I think it would have been facinating to push the surreality of the book with Magrette like images.  And please - just one Jack Lewis per play.

Though I didn't care it, I would have liked to have seen Max McLean's version of The Screwtape Letters.  It received great reviews and I'm sure I missed out on a good show.

Monday, January 6, 2014

beautiful soup

Gina asked me for homemade potato soup the other day.  She'll be home from work in a little while and she's going to get her homemade potato soup.  I've never made potato soup because I am not big on potatoes.  To make soup, one must be bold and adventurous so I am bold and adventerous in the kitchen.  I take un-calculated culinary chances.

The batch in my pot is light and creamy, a perfect consistency, with a wonderful flavor.  I didn't know where I was going with it but it worked.  I think I'm becoming a potato person.  I'm calling this experimental concoction a Stuffed Potato Soup because it tastes very much like a stuffed potato. 

In the big pot are chopped small red potatoes boiled (with skins), chopped onions, butter, heavy whipping cream, bacon droppings, sour cream, parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, white salt, red pepper, black pepper, garlic, seasoned salt, bay leaves, paprika and something else and something more to taste.  Like I said ~ bold and adventurous!

Katie made a fast run to the store to pick up a french loaf to be broken, buttered and consumed with the soup.   Gina will ask for the recipe but I don't do recipes.  I didn't measure anything.  I rarely-rarely do.   I don't really care to cook with books because cookbooks take all the fun out adventure.  If she wants the soup again, I'll make a batch that will taste a little different. 

If it weren't for my dear old pal and past neighbor Donnie Obermiller I wouldn't be making beautiful soups today.  I thought soup was just fine out of the can until he and Cheri started inviting Gina and me over to their house for eats.  Donnie can make soup like no one I know.  He knew how to get the most out of leftovers - ham bones - meat juices or what-have-you.  If he served a meat one night, he'd feed his growing family a delicious soup made from the broth from the previous night's meat.  I learned to love soup when I was the Obermiller's neighbor.

Eating Donnie's good soups made me want to make a good soups.  It took me a long time to get the hang of it and I finally did after a couple of years of boldly trying and failing in the kitchen.  I'm proud to say I don't fail at soup anymore.  I have quite the big head about my soups these days.  Tonight I have a big potato head about my Stuff Potato Soup!

Gina just got home.  The air is filled with the aroma of beautiful soup for a cold Winter's night.  Soup is on!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

movies schmovies

I have always loved going to the movies.  There have been times lately that I've been tempted to jump in the car in the evening and go see a late show. I'll get online and check out what's playing and then abort the idea.  There is rarely anything that I care to pay the steep cost of admission to go see.  Why pay out the nose for mediocrity?  Most movies today just aren't worth the cost of admission.  I find myself disappointed time and time again when I do go.

Usually if there is something showing that I want to see, I'll just wait until it's available on Redbox or Netflix.  It's not the same as going to the movies, but golly-gee, why go spend all that money just to see a show sooner?  For the most part the theaters have priced themselves out of my interest.  The treat just doesn't seem worth it like it used to.

Last week I took my family to see The Hobbit.  It had already been out for a couple of weeks and I didn't think we'd have trouble with seating.  As it turned out we had to sit in different seats.  Katie and Kelsey sat a few rows in front of us and Gina and I sat next to a young girl who had pulled her shoes off and who had apparently eaten something with an abundance of garlic on it before the show.  The aroma from her feet and mouth made an unusual combination to have to endure.  I can now imagine what an orc or a troll smells like.

These days when I do go to a movie it's for date night - for Gina and me to get away and watch a show and hold hands.  This past year we've spent more time holding hands in the dark at home watching a show.  We have popcorn.  We have sodas.  We have a decent sound system.  We even have a remote with a pause button so we can hold the show if we need to go to the bathroom.  Even better, we don't have to walk a long passage of a cinema multiplex to visit a messy bathroom.  We have our own clean private facility.

Eventually I'll upgrade our old tube television and get a nice big flat screen downstairs.  I'll then beef up the sound system so we'll have our own private movie theater downstairs.  I've got a big popcorn machine that will add to the experience.  These days most people I know have a better home theater system going on that we do.  Gina and I are a little behind the times.  Technology is just getting better and better by the year and so are the prices.  It no longer costs thousands of dollars to have nice home theater.  I'll get around to upgrading when the old tube dies.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

no resolutions for that year and this

2013 left quietly.  I never had much interest in seeing the ball drop, or seldom do I watch for the fireworks to light up the sky when the clock strikes midnight.  A year is suddenly in the rearview mirror and I didn't have any special reason to ponder it. The day passed like any other day ~ spending it quietly with my family. The past is behind us and I don't mind footing the pedal and put the car on cruise into '14.

The holidays came and went like a burning fuse.  It wasn't a sad holiday as I might have thought.  Sure there were tears, but I enjoyed the comfort and closeness of family. We suffered two deaths in the family this year,Gina's father and mother, her father at the first of the year and her mother at the tail end of it. God has kept us close - he is The Comforter.

I spent a good bit of time care-giving Mrs. Betty Hale from October to December.  By the time she left us, Christmas was a week away and I had gotten sick and laid low until Christmas day.  The better part the holidays were a haze.  The entire year was a haze for that matter.  It's time for the survivors of '13 get busy living in '14.

For some reason I look at the oncoming year, not just as a new year, but a new season for our family.  I don't know why, but I feel it in my bones and in my spirit.  I feel as if God's got this family on new course.  I sense that life will be different from here on out.  I don't know if the road will be hard or easy - probably a good share of both.  We'll find out as we travel this unknown road.

I am not down or disheartened.  I feel a little more melancholy than hopeful at this moment.  No matter what is to come, I am grateful for my family.  I am grateful for the the love we all have and share together ~ Gina, Katie, Kelsey and myself.  I find peace in this bond - counting God's blessing in each one of these lovely souls under this roof.

I don't have any resolutions for my new year.  I do pray that I become a better son to my Father, a better husband for my wife, and a better father to my children.  No matter what comes in 2014 - I am a blessed man.