Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bob! A New Paradigm...

It has been more than a week since I have posted a journal here. It's not that I have been too busy. I'm retired! You'd think I have lots of time on my hands now. No, it's more of "a shift" I think, in what is "interesting" me now. I've been thinking about it quite a bit. There is a subtle change in my motivations and interests that I'm finally able to accept and deal with. I don't think my "basic values" have changed but maybe some of the urgency has slipped away.

I originally started this Blog almost a year ago now. (May of '05). This is the last day of April, '06. Yes, a whole year of "reflecting" on my life and how to preserve it. ie. my memories, my current activities and what I wished to share with the "internet world" and my "loved ones"...mainly my sons and their families. It was born partially out of frustation in not being able to "influence" them much anymore (or ever) and also just to share my "point of view" and "advice". The over-riding theme was..."Bob!" ...the verb, meaning to "ride out the wave" and "float" through the good and the bad. I've tried to do that. Raising and supporting our large family, Betty and I did alot of that. There were "good" and "bad" times and I'm sure, I remember more good than bad. I knew, when I started the blog that it would probably be my last year of "employment" for someone else. Thirty-eight teaching and six selling R.E. is quite enough for me. I wanted to have time to "follow my bliss" and do my own "self employment" (or not) in my last years on this planet. I've mentioned that I wanted to "write" and study music (probably not perform) I still love to work with kids, like I used to but now, on a volunteer basis where I can come and go and set my own times etc. I'm starting to do that too.

However, yesterday, at a "group meditation" in the desert I think I may have come across a new "paradigm" for my life and for this blog. I'm still "bobbing" but it isn't so much to stay afloat and survive. I'm attempting to "dive" and then "bob" but not in an cognitive/active way. I'm not "trying" to force anything but just allowing it to happen. This is a new pattern which is used in our type of meditation. The metaphor is still there, floating on an "ocean of consciousness" not just my own either but...the universe's... Yes, it sounds strange but there really aren't words to describe the experience or the feeling (physically). I just know that it has given me, over the years, a new and different perspective. I believe it has helped my health and stress level and that it will continue to.

C.S. Lewis in his "Screwtape Letters", which I just happened to read (a passsage) today, explains this "law of undulation" he calls it. "Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. (a revolting hybrid) As spirits, they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation the repeated return to a level from which they fall back, a series of troughs and peaks..." Hence, the "bobbing" and "diving" that I am experiencing and will continue to experience, hopefully on a deeper and more profound level.

I'm not saying that I won't be just as involved with my "loved ones", especially my grandchildren. I may be even more "involved" at a "deeper level", a more "enlightened level" Who knows? My sons are all grown and have been for many years. I'm as involved with them as much they will permit or want me to be. This is the way it should be. They have always been very independent. We raised them that way. We are proud of them. They have chosen their own "paths". So, this blog, will not be about "advice" never really was. There are and will be "key transitions" ie. from boy to man, from son to father, from father to grandfather. We all have to do our best with these and still maintain "the boy", "the son", "the father". It's not easy. Living it, is the best example and really the only one I can do now. Sure, there are always going to be "frustrations" and "misunderstandings" along the way. That's life. How I deal with them is now my focus. What I share through this "journalling process" is going to change. It won't always be "therapy". Some of my "bobbing" after "diving" won't be shared, can't be shared. It will be my personal journey. This is as it should be. So...this is "30" for "Bob! Your Life Preserver" and quo vadis(?) to "Bob! My Life Preserver... Enhancer... Enricher... Enlightener"...Bob!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dreams Deferred?

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over -
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes
1902 - 1967
He has always been one of my favorite poets. I love to read his poems aloud. The above is one I found today. I used to teach and have my students memorize at least one of his poems a year.
Here's one of his most famous poems on the same topic:
"Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly;
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams go,
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow."
He was born into an abolitionist family in Joplin, Mo. James Langston Huhges was instrumental in shaping the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's. He was deeply immersed in the world of jazz, an important influence on his writing: "I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street...(these)had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going." "They speak to me even today."
"Young men see visions, old men dream dreams" or is it the other way 'round? I still have a few I plan to not defer any longer. Today, I had a little reminder of how much mine still depend on "vision". I had laser surgery on a retinal macro-aneurysm. My vision wasn't really threatened but it gave me pause to much of what I still want to do depends on my being able to see and not just hear. I love the sounds of music and poetry. I want to produce my own. I'm taking a class tomorrow at Crafton Hills College on Screenwriting. We'll see how it goes. I've been putting off these "dreams" of creating prose, poetry and music too long and I hope it is not too late. I've been checking into all kinds of classes and schools but I probably don't even need them to just let it "flow". There's a "thread" that runs through all I read and write now and most of what I listen to. Little of it has to do with the popular shows on TV or the movies. They seem to take up more of my creative thinking time. So I'm going to curtail my viewing. I've also got to increase my "eye rest" to let the lasering heal. I may increase my meditation times since this will serve the dual purpose of visual relaxation and stress reduction. I am not aware of having higher blood pressure but this was the first question the doctor asked as to a cause of this anomally.
It does give one a renewed sense of urgency about what I now want and need to do with my life. There are so many things and places I still want to see. There are my beautifully growing grandchildren to watch and nurture. These are all still there for the doing. My dad missed out on them with his fatal stroke, on the job at 59. So, you can see why there will be no more deferring where my dreams and visions are concerned...not by a dam site! Bob!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hushabye Mountain and Lullaby Bay

These comforting images are from a song I recently heard again and again when my grandchildren visited. It is from quaint but rather crazy musical "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". There are some songs in it that just won't leave your head. It happens to be my granddaughter's "favorite DVD" I think. She has to see the whole thing, all two hours plus, whenever she comes out for a visit to "Camp Gramma". I guess I'm the one who originally played it for her. Now, I'm wondering why. I think I have some reasons.

What originally fascinated me about the book, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was that it was by Ian Fleming who is famous for all the Bond genre. It is so totally different from his other writing. I suppose he too was a grandfather with kids he loved. It has his distinctive intrigue, plot and "special names" ie. "Truly Scrumptious" (a Bond heroine?) The movie gets carried away with almost "slap-stick" humor but it has its charming moments. I'm sure my grandson likes all the "inventions" and "contraptions" of "Caracatus", Dick Van Dyke. Dick is at his best, singing and dancing, just like his "Mary Poppins" character "the chimney sweep" At times it reminds me of "Babes in Toyland", another unending, convoluted musical comedy. I tried to direct a "Jr. Hi" version of it when I taught drama there. The movie has all the storybook characters, a melodramatic villain and lots of "chase scenes" does "Chitty". Kids must love it.

I think part of the hidden appeal, at least for my granddaughter, is the "love story". How they start out arguing and end up with the romantic kiss and flight over the storied land and windmill house. Then, of course, there's that "magic old-fashioned car" and all it's extra excessories. But how, can she keep wanting to see it over and over again...everyday if I permitted it? I think that it has to do with what is most important to kids of any age, even mine. Love and security. ie. Knowing that things will turn out all right. Knowing that dad is there always.He loves you and is going to be there to tuck you in, read to you, or tell you a story and sing you a lullaby.

My son had thoughtfully found the words to the lullaby and put a printed, internet version in a book he had been reading to them as a bookmark. We read the book(s) and noticed the "bookmark". Our heart(s) were warmed. What a good dad he has become. However, I just didn't feel comfortable singing it to my grandchildren at my house. It wasn't that it wasn't beautifully soothing, calming and so charming: "A gentle breeze from hushabye mountain, softly blows o'er lullaby bay. It fills the sails of boats that are waiting, waiting to sail your worries away. It isn't far to hushaby mountain, and your boat waits down by the key. The winds of night so softly are sighing. Soon they will fly your troubles to sea. So close your eyes on hushabye mountain, wave goodbye to the cares of the day. Watch your boat from hushabye mountain, sail far away from lullaby bay." It's not that they aren't wonderful images to fall asleep to, it's that they are my son's and his daughter's images. He is that special person, "Daddy". ..especially for a daughter. It is a relationship that is so sensitive and special (ie. "butterfly kisses"). It is one that I never got to experience, having all sons. I don't feel like I missed out, I had my moments...but these are his. I hope he truly treasures them, they happen so briefly and are gone so fast.

We have some other traditions now. They like me to read "Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book". And it usually does the job. Bob!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sometimes it happens

This is the title of a poem I just read aloud for the first time today. It was written by Brian Patten and published in "Poem A Day, Vol.3" It was originally published in "The Mersey Sound". He is one of the "Liverpool Poets" who was influenced by the American Beat movement who placed great importance on live performance of their work and embraced popular culture as their chief subject matter. I cannot copy it here for copyright reasons but I can share its themes and respond to them.

Each quatrain or so starts with the title..."Sometimes it happens..." and then it goes into what can happen next and results of that. ie. The first is about "friendship"; how you can be "a friend" and then you are not and "friendship" has passed and he compares it to a "fountain that empties itself" This has happened to me more than once. Sometimes friends moved away or I moved away and we lost contact. Email just isn't the same. Gone is a real source of enjoyment and connection.

"Sometimes it happens that you are loved..." or you think you are. Then something happens and you seem to "fall out of love" or maybe you never fell but just stumbled. What a metaphor, as if true love was something you could actually fall in and out of. Love takes effort all the time and you work on showing it and "being loveable" to the other(s). Here again, I like his word picture at the end of the stanza "...a fountain emptying itself into the grass"...that is so ubiquitous and eventually covers us all.

It talks about wanting to "speak to someone" and then missing the opportunity. It connects that with vanished dreams. Most of the time it is wishing you hadn't said something and could take it back. But what if you had said something and a whole new opportunity had opened up to you. This is especially true in "sales"...both buying and selling I think.

The next stanza pairs with the previous in structure but talks about "going somewhere", deciding against it and then wishing you hadn't because the opportunity is gone ..."quicker than a minute". Discount prices come and go quickly when booking for trips and cruises and hotel rooms we've found out (the hard way). "He who hesitates...

So you end up having nothing and you wonder if things really matters. As soon as you start wondering this...they stop mattering and you don't even care anymore. Then he goes back to the picture of the fountain emptying into the grass.(covering your grave?)

I think when I meditate and observe my life as it is happening, in the "moment" so to speak, everything matters even more. Time stands still and you pause to value it and notice what is happening. Then there isn't such a sense of loss when you move on or try something new or go somewhere else. along. Bob!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Solvang, CA Revisited

For our 43rd Wedding Anniversary Betty and I went to one of our favorite towns in California. It holds many endearing memories all the way back to when we were first married and without kids. We first went there with my folks and sister back in '63 or '64. We loved the food and shops themed on our "heritage" Scandinavia...Denmark. We are 1/2 Swedish and yet so many things there are the same or very familiar. Betty has been to this part of Northern Europe during her college days. I haven't yet. I'm looking forward to a grand tour including the Fjords. Betty's mom was born in Sweden and spoke Swedish. My mom was first generation and spoke Swedish especially when she didn't want me to understand what she was saying to her friends. She annually cooked Lutfisk and Smorgasbord. We had fruta soupa and limpa regularly usually around Xmas. So it was quite natural to just "love" this little village north of Santa Barbara and just east of Lompoc and Buellton. Yes, at one time we were tempted to buy a second home there. I wish we had now...$$$.

We always go early in the morning to miss the traffic and arrive for a late breakfast/brunch at "The Little Mermaid" or "Van's Belgian Waffles"...well, things have changed over the years and drastically of late. "Brigadoon" it is not! We have been there enough times to witness the slower changes but not the most recent. We were rather shocked. We were expecting the many "Outlets" that had moved in and we thought would be thriving. Wrong! They are all gone. Lots of quaint, Danish storefronts empty and boarded up. Somewhat sad but we could've predicted it. This is a very conservative community of "shopkeepers" and if you drive around the immediate area you can see the "50's style cottages". The surrounding estates and wine vinyards and ranches on the rolling hills have little to do with the village.

The verdant hills and foliage were a real treat for our "desert-eyes". The drive from the coast at Gaviota area inward to 246 was so reminisent of the hills of Scotland or the Appellachians with "Rocky top" type outcroppings of vertical strata...even a face or two. This was pre-wildflower time but the hill were dotted with live oaks and the contours were highlighted with recently sprouted mustard yellow. Gorgeous! We took our time coming back too. He hadn't started to rain again. Along the coast, 101, the sea/waves had an almost muddy hue as we ploughed through the downpours homeward. I tried to count the "Historic Camino Real" bells.

I've included some of our favorite places/sights. We have picture of our boys in the little red clog on the corner. It is amazing they fit in it. We didn't find the "pebble people" sign but the store is still there. Betty's favorite store, Mortensen's Bakery, is still going strong and hasn't changed, not even a new coat of paint. Their danish is to die for. We always bring some back to our family. Svendgaard's Motel, where we stayed many times, is still there in all it's pea- greeness. We would all fit in one room with cots and we loved the complimentary breakfast. "Bjorn Bunny" even visited us there one Easter. The toy stores are still there where each boy had $10. burning a hole in their pockets. Oh, the decisions ie. some bought too soon, some too late. Viking swords, helmets, armor, Swiss Army knives...etc. This time we had a granddaughter to lavish. As doting grandparents, we have to "spoil" our only granddaughter and she loves to dress up and play with dolls. We just had to go to the Book Loft and H.C.Andersen Museum. This time we were able to resist all the tempting books and games.

This time, we discovered two new delightful attractions. We started to take a walking tour of the "Tasting Rooms", some complimentary, of the local wineries. The first one that had stools to sit and taste got our vote. "Lion's Peak" has some delicious varietals and we stayed on and on talking to the owner/president Tony and a lovely young couple next to us. She was a student teacher/psychologist so we had alot to talk about. I think they were newly weds. We saw them later at one of the only "quality" restaurants "Cafe Angelique" with california cuisine. We ended up joining the club at Lion's Peak which is one of the oldest wineries in Paso Robles. We had a wonderful evening after all that "wine tasting"...believe me. The other new departure was the Chumash Casino. Wow! Last time we peeked into it, we were repulsed. ie. low ceilings, smoky, crowded. This time, a resort! Bigger than our local casinos here in the desert. Betty was the winner this time, we usually take turns and balance out our losses. We checked out the buffet and passed, not that fresh or popular when we checked. This "minor city" complex is only 5 minutes away from Solvang in Santa Inez. It has made for some "problems" in the area creating a whole new "neuvo rich" class of valley residents who are not "accepted" by the long-time Danish pioneers in the area.

Although it rained all day the second day, we had fun in and out of shops and restaurants with our umbrellas. We were on "a mission" to get certain gifts and mementos. Mission accomplished. Tak! Bob