The Color of Spring

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerhaps the most powerful aspect of changing seasons from winter to spring is the burst of color.  Sure, warmer temperatures are nice.  Of course, singing birds add a song to the air.  Yes, growing plants are better than bare branches.  But with spring’s arrival, there is a celebration of color, a parade of pigment, a hoopla of hues.

Reds, blues and greens burst forth where just weeks before there was nothing more than dark browns and grays.

Violet, magenta and yellow expand and blossom with each passing day, replacing a blah background of winter’s sad colorless world.

Of course, with the color comes the work.  However, mowing a few times a week is a small price to pay to have a carpet of green grass return from the dead.  Trimming back expanding branches is no burden when I can spend the evenings lounging in the shade of the Maple’s verdant canopy.  Pulling some weeds in the garden beds is a price well-paid for the beauty of daffodils and tulips that spot the landscape with color.

The rainbow of color never ends in this season I love.  And I am so very grateful.

It’s Spring Again

20140423_182444-PANOLet’s be honest:  It was a really long winter.

Record-breaking snowfall.  Teeth-chatterinly cold.  An unending deep-freeze.  A ever-lasting blast of ice.

It was beginning to feel as if the season of would never end.  Even as the spring daffodils poked their delicate flowers out of the ground and the tulips began to bud, another dose of snow hit Central Indiana with one-last attempt to make its presence known.

Yet, spring eventually poked through: The trees push out new leaves.  The grass turns brilliant green and thick.  The birds collect nesting materials and proclaim the arrival of warmth from high atop spruce perches.  It is glorious.

It is finally spring.  The long winter is over.  We should celebrate.

Getting Back To My Roots

694Every so often, a person must look back into their past and evaluate the source of their genetic material.  While I have no documentation to prove it, I believe I have a little Scot in my blood.  I base this on the fact that I love the move, Braveheart and look pretty good in a Kilt.

Where do you get your DNA?  What is the root of your personality?  Are you somber and stern or lovable and filled with laughter?  Are you tall and strong or short and frail?

It doesn’t make you less-than to know your history, no matter the outcome.  In fact, knowing from where you come gives you strength and purpose.

Be proud of your heritage.  Own your history.  It’s made you who you are today.

P.S.  And if you have the legs for it, slip on a Kilt…It’s most liberating!

Day 300 – A New View of Rudolph

20131214_080344Today was interesting.  It was the first time that I’ve ever butchered a deer.  But my father took a doe yesterday and asked if I would like some of the meat.  When I enthusiastically  responded, he then said I would just need to help process the deer.

And so, on this raining Saturday morning, I found myself sitting with my father and uncle in a Union City garage, carefully slicing deer steaks and roasts and preparing them for the freezer and many wonderful meals over the next year.  In the end, I came away with nearly 35 lbs of meat.  It was beautifully red and perfectly textured.  Bags and bags of stew meat await my oven casserole in the coming days of 2014.

It was an amazing gift from my father.  Not only the meat, but the opportunity to sit with these two men for the morning.  They told stories, laughed easily and cut meat non-stop for four hours.

Merry Christmas, Rudolph!

Day 285 – Speaking Truth

2013-12-05 buttonWhen someone gives you a button like this, you must have something going on!  And yet, there are times when I forget how good I have it.

I forget that I have a good paying job and work with excellent people.

I forget that I have a comfortable home.

I forget that I have dog that loves me unconditionally.

I forget that my family is healthy and well.

Instead, I often wish for more:  Higher pay, better furniture, nicer cars, a younger body.

What I forget is that I have so very much.  I fail to remember that I have Everything!

Day 278 – A Thanksgiving Blog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYears ago I drew a series of pictures for a possible children’s book.  I think they turned out pretty good.  If you ask my mother, she thinks they turned out great!  I had to take them off her refrigerator just to get them ready for publication.

The story is of a little boy who has a great day in the falling snow.  He sleds down hills, he tastes the falling flakes, and skates on the ice.  At the end of the day, he makes his way back into the house where he enjoys a big, comfy chair, a warm fire, a hot cup of cocoa and the companionship of his dog.

And so, today, I was thinking of this little story and how we don’t really want much more than that, if you boil it down.  We want comfort and are thankful when it comes.  We desire warmth and protection and spend much of our life pursuing this.  We want sustenance and if it comes in the form of chocolate, even better.  But most of all, we enjoy companionship.  We crave friendship, family, home.  We desire this above all else.

I think that is one reason I enjoy Thanksgiving so much.  It is a time of year when we gather with friends and family, not to exchange gifts or with any agenda.  We eat, we play some games, and we laugh.  We remember those who helped make our lives special and pray for their souls, and then we eat some more, watch some sport, and laugh.  It is a wonderful, beautiful cycle.

And so, on this Thanksgiving day, I pray that you all will know comfort, sustenance, and the warmth that comes from the bonds of love.  May you all find gratitude and grace in the arms of your friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Day 276 – Sunrise, Sunset

20131125_075306Yesterday morning broke bright and clear and the day only got better as the hours passed.

Have you ever had a day when you accomplish very little and felt very good about it?  That was my day yesterday.  I awoke very, very early and traveled to the gym with my wife and worked out for an hour or so.  It felt good to be alive.

On my way home, I stopped by post office, dropped off some movies at the local Redbox and purchased some fruit and spinach (yum).  Once home, I started my activities of reading, writing, and school work.  I spent a large portion of my day sitting in my lounge chair watching Christmas movies (I start every season with Die Hard) and my computer on my lap.  And ya’ know what?  I’m good with that. I need down time.  I need to put my feet up.  I need to relax from time to time.

And that down time paid off!  Today I awake fully rejuvenated by the prior day of rest.  I can move both my arms again (read prior post), I already have a load of laundry in the machines, the dishes are clean and despite just starting it last night, I finished one of my favorite books of all time:  Charlotte’s Web.  It’s not even seven in the morning and I’m hard at it with a coffee mug in my hand, my laundry in the other, and a smile wide across my face.

Yes, this is going to be a great day.

Day 193 – Another Labor Day, Another Summer Ended

2013.09.02 MondayI don’t know about you, but when Labor Day ends, I feel that summer is almost over as well.  I know we’ll have another heat wave, we always do.  But the major part of the summer has ended.

And we spent the last three-day weekend working hard, playing hard and resting when it mattered.

For instance, I ran another 1.62 miles today and would have gone farther but my app didn’t turn on and I had no idea what my time or my miles were tallying.

We spent the afternoon with my in-laws.

We spent the evening finishing up the new flower bed for the yard.  We spent the night out on the back porch, enjoying the cool night are that is so uncommon for this time of year.

It was a great weekend.  It was a great summer.

Day 121 – A Moving Moment

2013.06.22Our church has its flaws.  What organization doesn’t?

But it has moments each week that are special.  It has flashes of brilliance that, even after so many years in service and volunteering, make me pause in amazement and wonder.

Tonight, that moment came when Ashlyn and Amanda sang Sara Groves’ song, “Remember Surrender”.  The combination of voices, the lighting, the mood, the band…each one was perfect and it brought a perfect end to a good service.

I’ve been striving for something like this in my day to day life.  I’ve searching for that “perfect end” in each one of my busy days.  I’m looking to achieve a peaceful conclusion before I turn out the light and close my eyes.

And so, I’ll try reading.  I’ll sit in the back yard and listen to the night sounds.  I’ll enjoy a quiet conversation with my wife on the sofa.

It’s difficult some times to discover this type of end.  Sometimes my work day takes me right up to bed time.  Other times, the mosquitoes get the better of me and drive me inside.  Occasionally, my wife is busy doing her own thing and wants to stay up later.

But I know the goal.  I have the ideal in mind.  Sometimes I’m successful.  Sometimes I’m not. But I strive for peace and perfect harmony; something just a little like what I heard tonight.

Day 118 – Pool Perfect

2013.06.19My name is Curt and I live in a subdivision with a Home Owners’ Association.  There.  I got that off my chest and I feel so much better.

We pay our dues each March and don’t really appreciate the cost until the pool opens on Memorial Day.

For the past few years, my wife and I have made it a habit to visit the pool several times during the week.  After a long day of work, we jump in the crystal blue water and relish in the cool breeze blowing off the reservoir.  We enjoy the view of the boats rushing past pulling skiers and the kids on tubes.  Over the course of the summer, we get good exercise and a pretty descent tan.

And that’s where you would have found us tonight; our first night at the pool this year.  We paddled.  We waded.  We splashed.  And we dipped.  In short, we had a really good time.

Of course, this was after my run of 1.5 miles at a 12 minute pace.  I’m feeling better with each day and each and every run.  And so, the visit to the pool was a perfect way to wrap up my workout on the road.

Tomorrow is another long work day and so I might not get much exercise in but I’ll keep up the water drinking and the positive attitude!  Every day is another step forward on this Journey to 50!

Day 115 – Roses are Red

2013.06.16Today was a great day.  We started with a family breakfast; waffles, bacon, eggs and fruit.  My wife and kids whipped up a wonderful table full of food and we sat together, laughing and talking.

After the breakfast dishes were cleared and the mess was cleaned, Anita and I went for a good, long walk.  It was my fourth exercise of the week (or in her mind, the first exercise of the new week).

The afternoon was spent with my parents and a few of my siblings as we celebrated Father’s Day with dad.  It was a fun day and we made it home in time to fire up the grill and try it out with a whole chicken.  I was thrilled to know that I could monitor the temperature of the grill and the bird, adjusting for cooking time and temp.  While it cooked, I continued reading my book and sipping on some red wine.  By the time the sun was setting in the west, we were ready to taste some cheese and a perfectly cooked chicken.  I think Anita enjoyed the bird as much as I did.

It was one of the most restful days I’ve had in a long time and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Father’s Day.

Day 114 – 98 Candles


Aunt Mable, came to visit with her daughter, Phillis.  They made the trip from Florida because Mable will be 98 years old in a couple days.

We only gave her two candles because it was easier to do the math (100-98=2).  Next year she will only get one candle.

Watching her forced the question: What will I be like if I make it to 98?  Will I be as spry?  Will I be as sassy?  Will I give as good as I get?

I recently saw a small figurine that is intended as a gift for an older gentleman.  The front of the little trinket said, “Birthdays are good for your health.  The more you have, the longer you live.”

I’m thinking I’ll shoot for the 98 mark.

Day 107 – As Done As It Will Get

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have big dreams for our kitchen and have been working on the cabinets since November.  We’ve sanded and primed.  We’ve rearranged and painted.  We’ve cut counter tops and shimmed appliances.

But no amount of work allowed us to get the job done the way we ultimately want before Ben’s party.  Today, I mounted the upper cabinet doors and put on the final coat of trim paint.  That’s it.  I can’t do any more.

And I’m not going to bemoan the fact that there is still a counter top to install and subway tile to place.  I’m not going to apologize for a job that’s not quite done.  My guess is, when this little project is complete, we’ll move on to the next.

It’s the truth of life.  At every point on the journey, we are in process.  Sure, we might find that perfect body size, but our minds still need improving.  We’ve planted the flower beds just so, but there are still weeds that need pulled.  The house is in the perfect location but we need paint, there are pluming issues, the windows need washed.

It’s just the way it is.

So, I’ll enjoy the kitchen for now…But I won’t fool myself into ever thinking that we’re done.

Day 104 – A Little Hard Work Never Killed Anyone

2013.06.05A little hard work never killed anyone.

At least that’s how the saying goes.  But I beg to differ.  I’ve heard of men having heart attacks shoveling show.  People are killed when their riding mowers roll over on them.  Push a spade into the wrong spot and you can light up like a Christmas tree.

Oh, I think a little hard work has killed lots of people.

Even with this knowledge, I’ve been willing to risk death these past two weeks.  I’ve laughed in the face of danger as I’ve moved mulch, sealed my drive and trimmed bushes.  I’ve stared the Grim Reaper in his cold, dark eyes as I’ve put up baseboard, painted cabinets and scrubbed the toilet.  I’ve thrown caution to the wind as I’ve mowed the yard, watered the garden and swept the patio.

Yes…I live life on the edge and I have the dirty nails, sore muscles and a deep satisfaction of a job well done to prove it.

Day 98 – Vacation

2013.05.30As an adult, I’ve learned that taking a week of vacation doesn’t always mean traveling to exotic beaches, far-away destinations, or remote locations.  It doesn’t even mean day trips to familiar tourist spots and curious corners of the state.

Many times, a week off work is just another way of saying a week of more work.

It’s Thursday and I’m exhausted from the amount of hard work I’ve done here in the house.  I’ve worked harder in the past few days than I do in an entire week at the office.

I’ve mowed the yard, trimmed the bushes, edged the flower beds, deadheaded the flowers, pruned the trees, poured the concrete, laid the sod, and emptied the trash.  I’ve shopped for wood, prepared for black-topping the drive, and watered the flowers.  I’ve hung B-Board.  I’ve installed cabinets.  I’ve painted doors.

And yet, as I look around, there are just as many things that need attention.  There’s baseboard that needs paint, counter tops that require installation, doors that need hung.  There’s a desk that needs cleaned and a cabinet that needs moved.  Baseboard must be nailed in place.  Work tables should be put away.

There’s dusting and sweeping, mopping and polishing.

The work never ends.  Even thinking about all this work makes me tired. And we’ll be doing this work right up to the 9th; the day of Ben’s Graduation Party.  But we won’t even be done with the kitchen at that point. Counter tops, back splash tile and a new faucet await installation. 

I can’t wait to get back to the office where I can take a rest!

Day 94 – Hard To Watch Work

2013.05.26Today was quite full.

We started our day with a morning church service followed by visits to our local nurseries for plants and potting soil.

We arrived home after grabbing a sandwich at Subway and started working.  While listening to the Indy 500 on the radio, Anita painted doors for the kitchen cabinets and I filled the pots and placed them around the yard.  Once watered, they gave a wonderful splash of color to the porch and flower beds.

I showered and prepared for my next casting call.  It’s for a new movie being shot this July by local movie maker, Luke Broyles.  I’m pretty sure I nailed it and got the part.  I’ve signed a gag order preventing me from saying more about the film.  Let’s just say that I might be horizontal for most of this film.  More info will come as we find out more.

Next I went grocery shopping, a stop at Lowe’s and CVS and then home to eat a wonderful salad with my wife.

It was a very full day.  On the exercise front, I didn’t get a run in before the rain but I did work hard in the yard and ate well.  I stepped on the scale this morning and found that I hadn’t lost any more weight but I also hadn’t gained any more weight.  I count that as a good day.

Day 80 – Mothers’ Day

2013.05.12Today is Mothers’ Day and my kids (when they are good they are Mine) did something very special for their mother today.  First, they all dressed up and came to church with her.  She loves to have her family together and it made the day very special.

Second, they took her to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and enjoyed the exhibits and the grounds.

As I write this, they are preparing Salmon and Vege’s with a salad of spinach and strawberries.

While they were all out gallivanting around the county, I stayed home to mow my yard, set out the lawn chairs and do what I do best:  Yard Work.

In the end, I walked four miles, pushing the mower, weed eater and blower the entire time.  It was a good work out!

I think we all had a great day when all was said and done.

Day 77 – Two Lessons, One Blessed Day

Peter, Agassi and Mary Birker pose for a quick picture after a wonderful Ethiopian meal.

While I didn’t get a morning walk in the neighborhood, I did start my day with a walk to the IUPUI campus and back.  It felt good to be out under beautiful trees with perfect weather.

Work was work and nothing more or less.  In my book, that’s a good day.

I try to always learn something new each and every day and today was no exception.  In fact, I think I learned two things.

First, I learned that communication is everything.  Texting is NOT the way to make plans with your children.  Face-to-face conversations are best.  Telephone calls work wonders and often prevent unnecessary confusion, frustration, angry dads and upset children.  Text Scheduling results in a hug and apology nearly every time.

The second and more enjoyable thing I learned tonight is that the dearest friends always stay friends.  Mary Birkner has been a friend of ours from the time we first met her at Epworth Forest Sr. High Institute around 1980.  She latched on to our youth group and spent more time in our cabin than she did her own.  And we were all the better for it.  Her tender heart and infectious laugh made her instant friends with each and every one of our group.

Mary’s gift to us on our wedding day: Her expertly drawn picture of a man and his nose.

Tonight, Mary, Peter and their amazing son, Agassi, flew into town to visit family.  Thankfully, they requested a dinner with us on their way out of Indy.  It was such a pleasure to share an authentic Ethiopian meal.  It was our first time to enjoy the cuisine and Agassi gave us a good lesson on the art of eating with on hand.

We laughed over old times and caught up on life and family.  We celebrated our children’s accomplishments and bemoaned the aches that come with growing older.

The restaurant locked their doors and we decided it was time to leave.  As they drove off into the heavy rain, I gave thanks for the time we had together.

It truly was a blessed day.

Day 75 – Weird Day But Good

2013.05.08There is no other way to say it:  Today was weird but good.

I started my morning, not with a walk but with a drive.  I made a trip to Muncie to visit a family member in the hospital.  Together we talked about doctors, medicine, this hospital stay and what future health might look like.  It was a good visit.

From there, I drove to pick up equipment from a patient’s home.

By the time I landed back at my own house, it was early afternoon and I hadn’t even started on anything productive or restful…the two hallmarks of a day off.

After changing into my shorts and grubby shoes, I hit the yard with a vengeance.  I trimmed edges, I mowed thick grass, I shoveled and wheeled mulch.  I glued my side-view mirror back on my car.  I planted Azaleas and my wife’s Mother’s Day gift; a new Lilac bush.

In short, I worked by butt off for seven solid hours.  So, it felt good to finally land on the back porch amidst the fruits of my labor.  I sipped on some Honey Mead and enjoyed the quiet neighborhood and the slowly setting sun.

It was a weird day:  A little family time, a little work drive, and a lot of yard work.  In the end, it turned out just fine, even without the walk to get it started.

Day 74 – College Bound

2013.05.07I just finished another long day of work and driving around the state.  I started my day early with a wonderful walk and ended it by pulling into my house after a couple home visits and a sleep study hook up.  The last visit occurred in the home of a man who smoked Cigarillos during the procedures.  It was charming and now I reek.

But something exciting happened when I walked in the door and started sorting through the mail.

It wasn’t the letter saying that our Auto Insurance rate went up because we added our newest and youngest driver to the plan.  It wasn’t the AARP invitation.  It wasn’t even my dismally underfunded retirement savings summary.

The exciting thing happened when I found the letter from Indiana University East announcing that I’d been accepted to attend classes in the Fall of 2013.  I’m officially an IU student and will begin work on my Bachelor of Science in Communications.

I’m finally going to make something of myself.

There’s only one problem with my plan:  My wife isn’t thrilled about the bunk beds I ordered to go into our dorm room.  I suspect she wanted matching lofts.