About 35 years ago, about this time of year, I got a phone call from a man who was a neighbor and who I went to church with. He was in jail and expected to be so for a few weeks. He didn't know if he would be able to go home and be with his wife and young's kids even if it was for Christmas Day. He wanted some help in getting a few things that if he did get out could be from him. My wife helped buy some socks and a few things and we helped him. He did get to go home for Christmas Day and the help was appreciated. It has been a long time, but I have thought of this event many times, this time of year.
It may have been closer to 40 years ago, but one summer a group of church kids and myself went and painted a house where an older lady lived alone. For a few years I would drive just by to see how the paint was holding up but again I find myself thinking back about this.
I hate to admit how many years ago this next memory happened. When I was a young boy our scouts and other young kids went to and area about 50 miles from where we lived where fires had damaged most of the trees. We replanted thousands of trees. For years as I would occasionally drive that highway I would look up a canyon off the highway to where we planted them to see how they were doing.
Service helps those served, of course, but it helps and is important to those that serve. Looking for someone to help this Christmas time would be a good thing.
Good advice on writing is to have a regular private place to do it. Turn off the TV, and work in the quiet.
I recently listened to a nutritionist discuss healthy life habits. She suggested that sleep was especially important, and that it should be done in a room with no noise or lights. She added that the cell phone ought to be turned off or not left in the room to ding all night. Nothing new here but even so it suggests some changes.
Solitude is healthy, apparently. Background lights and noise may not be healthy, or even helpful, at certain times. I do write with a TV on sometimes but quiet is better. Sometimes you think habits and routine are important because they are habits and routine, but working in solitude is better. Creativity is easier when you have no competition for your attention.
I went for a walk today. As usual, I was thankful for the blue skies and the crisp air. It was peaceful and quiet, and I did notice that. Walking is a opportunity to think and ponder, and that personal quiet time is an easy habit to look forward to and it is helpful.
I posted, in the Stories Section on December 7th, a quote from John Muir. The quote resonated with my thoughts about a favorite running trail called the Pipeline. I have used the "Stories" section is for things that I personally had some involvement in.
Thoughts in this "Daily Comment" section are mostly about what happened on a particular day, or what I spent time pondering that day. Today I have come back to this same quote and some thoughts found in a book I am reading.
The book,"American Wolf, A True Story Of Survival And Obsession In The West by Nate Blakeslee", offers some insight into Muir's comment: “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
Yellowstone Part is a 3500 square mile wilderness. When the Wolf was reintroduced in 1995 after having been gone for 70 years it was hoped they would help manage a rising Elk population, but they did much more, and in many ways, saved the park.
Beavers feed on willows surrounding the streams but so do Elk. With Wolves present, the Elk didn't linger as long in the low valleys and moved higher and didn't consume as much willows, so the Beaver population increased.
The Coyote population had been unchecked and they were eating most of the rodents but with Wolves present the coyotes were reduced by half causing the rodent population to rebounded. This gave more food for owls, hawks, ravens, eagles,weasels and foxes, so their populations began to grow.
Antelopes were a favorite food of the coyotes but the Wolves didn't bother with them. The Bear population had been dropping but that changed because their food supply increased which included Antelope calves and nuts. They didn't have to rely as heavily on bark pine nuts and this helped the squirrels.
The wolves packs grew more when the Elk were plentiful and the grew less with smaller Elk herds.
The resulting change in this forest wilderness was in the balance of animals and plants. Getting back to a natural balance added understanding to John Muir's comment and suggests that the entire universe may have a optimum balance. Finding what the natural balance in the universe is will likely take a lot more work.
Review of this book, American Wolf, A True Story Of Survival And Obsession In The West by Nate Blakeslee, should post in the next day or so.
I have always loved this quote by T.S. Eliot:
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time".
I think our life will seem very different when we reach the end and look back. All that we have explored, learned, and have done, will change us.
We will see the whole of it very differently than we did as we experienced the parts. The beginning, the journey, and all of the related circumstances will be clear, for the first time.
My great grandmother was born in 1840, and lived in the Parish of St. John near Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. When she was 16 she emigrated to the United States. I took a typed copy of her history to church with me Sunday and planned to share it with two girls and a boy, all 9 years old. It was at church and I had brought a copy of a story written about my great grandparents.
Before we even had a chance to start talking about the story the kids noticed the extra long paper and the print on the paper. They knew immediately it was different and that it had been typed with a typewriter. Each shared some thoughts about a typewriter they had seen once or somewhere. The idea of something of importance being "typed" was sort of a surprise to them. We probably spent as much time talking about typewriters as we did on the story I had brought.
I remember when I was about that age it was common for me to see my grandfather with the typewriter shown above (on the left). It always sat on a table in his living room. Papers would be scattered all around the area and it seemed he would always be in the middle of a special letter to someone.
He wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper regularly and seemed to have a dialog going with them.
That typewriter is full of memories for me.
I wondered if today would be much different than yesterday and whether to make any comment on this daily comment section. I decided to go for a walk figuring that it would be a good time to ponder on the day. I got about half a block and I saw a neighbor pull out of his garage and take off down the street. Before long he was back and pulled up along side of me.
The neighbor was driving a 1929 Ford Truck with some modifications. We rode around the area and talked cars for a while. I do like old vintage autos. I have a section for them here on this blog under the Misc Tab. Good Things happen when you are not expecting. Good Day.
Maya Angelou said: If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be. I thought of that quote when I wondered how to label this day. Perhaps it is a "normal day"?
I also remember a comment made while driving home from the Festival of Trees the other night. For several weeks we had anticipated the Festival and after it was over one member of our group said, "now we can check that one off our bucket list this year and just relax". Is relaxing the normal we seek?
If it is, then yes, this is a normal day.
Tuesday night was the opening night for the Festival of Trees so we decided to attend this event. On the first night the decorated Christmas Tree arrangements, gingerbread houses, wreaths, and quilts, are displayed and auctioned off. The rest of the week everything stays in place and mostly people just come to see things but the quilts and many things can still be bought.
People spend months preparing these items for this event and then they donate them and people bid and pay on them. Some tree arrangements go for several thousand dollars.
Our family has attended this event over a lot of years and this years was the biggest I have seen yet. Primary Children's hospital gets 100 % of the proceeds. They even get 100% of the food concession sales which are donated. Last year 16 million dollars was raised.
The hospital treated over 84,000 children last year. They are one of the top ten rated children's hospitals in the United States. The have a cancer center and a heart center also rated high in national rating. Every day at least 35 children are in the cancer intensive care.
In my post yesterday I said that, "people are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful".
Coming to an event like this one and seeing how much people do to just help is a great opportunity. Feeling gratitude for being around so many others showing gratitude is a wonderful thing.
Grateful for so many who are grateful
A Sunny Day is something to be very grateful for. Our Thanksgiving Day tradition used a placement to help us list and remember things were thankful for.
The Sun makes a big difference in how I feel. When the day starts with Blue Sky and Sun it is exciting.
I enjoy walking outside and feeling the warmth of the Sun on my face. I love how the blue sky frames the Sun in the sky. I am grateful for the Sun and the Blue Sky and the clean crisp air we breath. Finding what your grateful for makes a difference in how you feel.
People are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful. Grateful for today.
Yesterday I posted about a visit to KB Horses and a special wagon ride, pulled by Butch and Sundance, two very large Clydesdale horses.
Several dogs live at the stables and they are an important part of the business. They one thing you notice right off is that these dogs are well trained. Brenda the owner helps and has taught her staff on how best to train the animals, and they show it. The horses understand what is being asked and the dogs are very obedient.
With these dogs being around different people every day, and with more than 4 dogs on site, it is a little surprising to see how well they behave. Dogs are needed in this business. They follow out those riding a horse with a guide and run ahead flushing out snakes and critters. It is interesting to see a deer or rabbit jump and not have the dog disappear over the far off hills chasing it. The do chase it but come back when called.
They do the same for the wagon when it goes out. While waiting for the wagon to be hitched up the dogs love to play with the customers. They bring sticks to your feet expecting you to toss it for them to fetch. The black one often gets to the stick but one of the other dogs will also make it about the same time and they wind up each holding part of the stick in their mouth, not being willing to let go, and then sort of walking back together.
Loved the dogs.
Butch and Sundance are both Clydesdale horses. Sundance is a little bigger and weighs about 2100 lbs. He is 9 years old. Butch is about 1900 plus lbs. and is about 7 years old. Sundance does more of the work so Butch needs reminding. The driver uses some verbal coaching and a little switch to remind Butch to pick it up somewhat regularly. These two powerhouses live at the stables of KB Horses near Heber, Utah.
Yesterday 10 of our family members road in the wagon pulled by these powerful animals. The wagon weighed about 1600 lbs and their were two drivers. So that means 12 people on this trip.
Both horses are able to pull 1 and 1/2 times their own weight so they could easily pull the 1600 lbs of wagon and had the capacity to pull 4400 lbs of happy folks. The good news is we had plenty of capacity left.
There are over 30 horses at this facility and only a very few are Clydesdales. Horses are proud animals and they are very social. When this wagon goes down a road past another ranch it passes a large field that has many horses, cows and some ducks in it all together. The cows and horses don't mix but the horses have those that lead, and those that follow. It is clear that you know your place if your a horse. The ducks really are there for the large pond and a few sheep sort of mix in also.
When we go by this field in the wagon the horses run to the fence by the road and sort of prance alone with us as we pass, raising their heads, and raising their feet higher than normal.
Yesterday as we returned to the stables we passed by a fenced area where the other horses owned by KB Horses were at. One was a younger horse, new to the stable. His marking were very interesting with lots of white and chestnut color covering his body. He was young, and looked very strong. He had a lot of energy and quickly came down near the fence, by the road, and then just tossed his head back, lifted his feet high, and did some serious prancing. Obviously a big showoff.
I made a list of the 10 things I am most thankful for on Thanksgiving and of course "family" is always the top of that list. Down the list was, among other things, blue sky, cool crisp air outside, and the sun. Just being outside is enough to make you feel good if you have at least blue sky and sun. The sun on your face or back is so good.
Today one of the first things I saw, with the help of a family member pointing it out, was a wild turkey.
I need to let you know that this picture above was a stock internet picture. I didn't get the actual wild turkey on camera. We did get it on a telescope and that was great.
Yesterday we read about a women we all know from the daily TV who apparently had posted a stock photo pecan pie in a note she sent someone mentioning her great pecan pie she had made. The article criticizing her felt it was deceptive to imply that her pie was the picture perfect pie.
So for the sake of "photo purity" I want to make sure to confess that this picture may or may not be close to the one I saw. My sighting was sticking it's head up above the sage brush and I saw a tail poking up also. Both the the family members who spent more time on the telescope than I did gave it their official "that is a real wild turkey" ok.
Today I spent some time continuing to update this blog. Much has been done and a lot of content added. The Amazon link may not have been working because several told me they had tried to use it. (Appreciated) So now there is a link on the cover page sidebar where you can to and then pick the book or anything for that matter. Also at the end of the book review posts there will usually be a link to that book on Amazon.
This blog is almost a year old. Those faithful followers are appreciated. A lot of upgrades are still coming.
Enjoy the long weekend. Enjoy the leftovers.
You will hear a lot of people refer to this as their favorite holiday. Probably not the person who fixes the Thanksgiving day dinner but many think it is great because you don't have to buy a lot of presents and isn't the huge activity that Christmas is. Some thoughts thinking back. Start out with Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
This is a great TV event for the rest of us not living in New York. You can take the traditional approach and just sit back in awe. Or you can take a little more casual approach and make fun of a lot of what you see. Patti Labelle comes by on the Ocean Spray float and someone in the room says "gee wonder if they paid her in Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce". By itself that isn't all that funny but stack it on to an hour or two of wise cracks and it can be pretty funny.
If your a runner, the morning will offer a good race. Or if your older you can think about the 13 marathons you ran and how they probably ruined your body.
Eating is of course a good way to spend the day. This year we had special placements on the table starting early in the morning. Some boxes of Crayolas were also on the table and we got to color the placements and then at the bottom of the mats were some lines and above a note saying "I am Thankful For." It is good to spend some time doing that. Don't get carried away. A meaner approach is to ask for "Things I hate" and then after dinner if you all read them to each other you can feel really good if someone is thankful for you or of course if you take the low road you can feel really bad is someone has your name down as things they hate about Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving can be so very special, or it can be so very lonely. Happiness increases when it is shared.
Sometimes people work so hard to help. They work with large groups. They gather up blankets and food and take them by the truckload to those in need. Hurricane survivors are a good example of those who are really helped this way.
A question to ask is what about the person across the street or down the block? What about the older lady you see at church who has no one coming to town and will be alone? Taking them a plate of food, or some desert, can bring so much warmth and happiness.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Reach out and spread some happiness.
I have a twitter account, @ConnectedEvents3 , and I use that account to announce new review posts at this site. I often use some of my own quotes, also found here. The twitter account has a large following of mostly authors.
There is much that can inspire and motivate a writer, and those twitter posts use a lot of different sources about writing. What to write about is always the question. For some stories you can start with the ending, and then work backwards. Or you can start with your characters. Once you have a good understanding of who your characters really are, they can actually tell you what the story is.
Sometimes writing can be stimulated by the situations around us. This last week I have been concerned about the needless slaughter of Elephants. Understanding that elephants grieve for the loss of a family member and remember it for decades makes that type of news very upsetting. Twitter gives me the opportunity to copy others on those thoughts and maybe it will add to what is already being said and do some good.
Another subject of concern this week is the terrible tragedy in Yemen. Starvation is actually being used as a war tactic by the Saudis. A child dies of starvation in Yemen every 10 minutes. This was reported on 60 Minutes on November 19th.
Fortunately there is so much beauty and so much to be grateful for in the world that can be a focus for writing.