Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Weak One

So here we are.  At the end of a project.  The end of the journal jar.  The final prompt.  On this, the final day of February, 2012.  A leap year.  A leap day.  It's kinda like I received an extension on this project already.  But I said I would complete it this month, and so here goes.  Happy leap day, everyone.

Describe or draw a picture of your favorite birthday present.

Uh.  Okay.  What was it?  I don't remember most of my presents...  What ever was my favorite?

I  am at a total loss here.  I have no recollection of presents that I've received.  So maybe I can recount some of the favorites that I've given?  But no, I'm not coming up with anything there either. 

This is ridiculous.  I can't come up with anything.  The final prompt and I have failed.  What does this say about me?  What does this say about my blog?  Am I a writer or a fake?

Okay-- so maybe I've got it.  I think my buddy Mike got me tickets to see Sinead O'Connor in Berkeley around my birthday in 1989 or so.  She was fantabulous and I was so stoked and amazed.  It was one of the best shows I've seen, and I've seen a lot of shows.

So there.  That was a great present.

So.  Now what?

weak.  what are you gonna do...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Take Me Out to the Food

The journal jar is almost done.  Here is the 2nd to last prompt.

Where do you like to go to eat out?  What do you order?

I like to go out to a lot of different places.  I go out to eat a lot.  We'll often walk to dinner, we have so many good choices within walking distance for us.  There's a steak house, several Mexican places, and even a Thai restaurant.  We also happen to have the first drive-thru Indian restaurant in North America (!) right here on the corner, about a block away.  So we have a lot of options.

I've been meeting my friend for lunch about once a week for the last several years now.  We used to work together, and we'd meet for lunch at least once a week while we were working out in the same area of town.  She's retired now, but we still meet, usually on Mondays, and have lunch.  We almost always go out to eat.  We like to frequent Mexican places, as well as pizza parlors and sandwich shops.  But we'll try other stuff too.

When Suzy and I go out, we like to find places that serve wine and beer.  Suzy likes chardonnay; I like a finely crafted micro-brewed beer (usually a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale draught).  To that end, we like Andy's Barbeque because they have the wine and beer we like, they're within walking distance, and they have really good garlic bread.  Thaibodia has Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap and the food is first rate tasty. 

What I usually order when I go out is always up in the air.  I love so many kinds of food.  When tasting Thai, I like the yellow curry, or other curries with the coconut milk.  Yum.  I LOVE pizza.  Usually my favorite pizza is sausage, mushroom, and olive.  I also like a good calzone-- last week my friend and I went to Frankie, Johnny, and Luigi's in Mountain View and I got a sausage calzone-- had to take half of it home with me (made for a really good breakfast!)

Man, I'm just all over the place today--  here we go talking about food again!

I love a good steak, and Andy's does a good job.  Their ribeye is good.  I also like their pork chops and their brisket.  But mostly we like to go and drink, sit in the bar, and have interesting conversations with the people that go there.  We've met quite a number of characters there.

I love a good burrito, too.  One of my favorites is Freedom Burrito.  Also good is Mondo Burrito.  I've had many a burrito from each of these places, and it has always been a good experience.

Man oh man, I could go on for days like this, except that I'm getting hungry and I can't concentrate when I get hungry.  Gotta EAT!   (Besides, I just got a phone call, so my rhythm is off.  That's okay, blogs are meant to be short, right?)

Now, what will I eat?  Oh, man... decisions, decisions...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Making a Fresh Difference

Just something to talk about.  That's all we need.  And it brings enlightenment.

Finding your way-- that is the ultimate.  Knowing what it is that you need to do.  Knowing that what you want to do matters.  This is the stuff of legend.

I fixed a faucet today-- outdoor hose bib that had been leaking, and wouldn't turn off all the way for several months.  I had stopped the leak by adding an auxiliary shut off to the faucet, so that I could shut it off at the added shut off.  But today I turned off the water supply at the house and set to work at solving the primary issue.  And I succeeded.  New faucet, turns off at tap.  Yeehaw.

In the process, I also tried to replace a leaking sprinkler valve.  Wasn't successful in this endeavor, because I didn't have any viable PVC cement.  Need to go shopping before we can remedy this problem.  So I started a shopping list and deferred the completion of the task.  Hope to get to the store tomorrow.  Today?  I'm just too busy to go shopping.

I've since closed up the plumbing shop and started working on my computer.  I made connections through facebook to meet with an old friend from grade school next week-- someone I don't think I've seen since about the 5th grade.  Amazing that I could even make a connection with him, let alone meet up with him again in the present.  Looking forward to that.

Tonight we have a get together at our friends' house for a casino night/fundraiser for a guy that had a bit of a hardship-- he was hit by a car and doesn't have medical insurance.  The person who hit him didn't have insurance either, so he is in a fix and needs some help.  So to the rescue comes our friend Jan who is hosting this casino night to raise funds for the treatment of the guy and his medical bills and such.  So we'll be going over there for the festivities this evening.  Meanwhile, my wife has already been at work at the Special Olympics fundraiser, the Polar Plunge, where she waded into the cold bay water along with several other crazy folks and raised money for the Special Olympics.  She will be home soon to finish preparation of her "hasty hots" appetizers and then we will be on our way to the casino night for more generous fundraising.

The house across the street is getting some updates-- construction sounds are being emitted as we speak.  They are apparently getting a new bathroom added on to the back bedroom of the house.  A tiny but functional addition, indeed.  We hope to do something similar soon with our homestead.

So.  The neighborhood continues to change... the house that has been for sale for several months now has finally got a sale pending sign-- good news for the family that moved out, I would think.  Would be nice to get a new family in there and hopefully get to know them and prosper...  We'll have to see what happens.

Much cooler today, but still kinda spring-like.  Inspiring to get out and put some plants in the ground.  I think I will be planting a bunch of vines soon-- grapes, blueberries, raspberries and the like.  And maybe asparagus and other stuff as well.  Looking forward to planting a wide variety of goodies.  Transforming our homestead into a well spring of produce.  Such is the hope.

We really do have a lot of land to use in this gardening endeavor.  Should be interesting how we decide to accommodate it all.  Little by little, we will make the difference that we hope to make.

Can't wait to have blueberries at our disposal.  Maybe we'll even plant bananas, I don't know.

Dream big, and bring forth the greater reality.

Onward, my friends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pass the Stuffing, Please

Tell about family traditions: Christmas, birthdays, graduations, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, weddings.

For those keeping score at home, this is the #3 journal jar prompt left, soon to be not a part of the jar anymore.  Okay, so it's out of the jar already.

Family traditions most of the time involve or revolve around food.  Perhaps I'll take them one at a time.

Christmas involved my parents and my sister and me talking ourselves into being able to open one gift on Christmas Eve in the mid to late '70's.  This became our tradition.  I think it was instituted to ease some of the anticipation of Christmas morning, and to spread the celebration out a bit.  I don't know, maybe we just couldn't wait any longer.  We traditionally would go and get a tree-- something we do with my sister's boys now.  I wrote about that here.  And there are even pictures there, and other links to other musings about Christmas.  There is quite a tradition of making cookies-- first just decorating sugar cookies with all sorts of colorful sprinkles as young kids, and now with my wife and her family all baking up numerous treats of all different types at the annual cookie party competition that renders the family awash in cookies for the entirety of the holiday season.  And Christmas morning sausage bread has become a favorite new tradition at the Kolb Christmas.  It can hardly come out of the oven fast enough.

Birthdays are usually a time to gather and eat.  Cake, ice cream, pie, cookies, candy, plus entire meals are planned.  Many times a "favorite meal" is prepared at the request of the person celebrating his or her birthday.  I can remember requesting tamale pie more than once for my special occasion.  With a growing family, we've taken to combining celebrations at times, making one 'great' meal for two or more celebrants.  It's nearly impossible to get through a week in June without tripping over a few birthdays in our family.

Graduations are much the same as birthdays.  There's gotta be a feast.  More often these celebrations take advantage of kinder weather conditions and occur in the outdoors.  They also often involved grilled meat and wine and or beer.  And maybe a pen and pencil set.  Nowadays, gift cards seem to be the traditional gift for graduation.  But when I graduated 8th grade, it was pen and pencil set in a velvet lined carrying case.  Times change.

Fourth of July is most definitely a "cookout" sort of holiday.  The traditional menu comes to mind-- mom's macaroni salad and baked beans, paired with barbecued chicken and garlic bread.  Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my mouth.  Barbequed steak with sauteed mushrooms and gorganzola cheese crumbles is a favorite, served with red wines and grilled or broiled vegetables like asparagus or potato wedges.  A given regular at this time of year-- Suzy's flag dishes go into the rotation, usually around her birthday, Flag Day.  And baseball on the radio-- we love our SF Giants announcers, who are entertaining regardless of how the game is going.

Halloween traditions have really changed in the past ten years or so.  It used to be that we'd get all geeked about a costume party, but we've really calmed our jets on that one.  I kind of lament the fact that the house decorating goes so overboard, so that it just looks like Christmas in black and orange.  We still hand out candy, but my heart hasn't been in it these last few years.  Maybe something will change, but I just don't get the hype right now. 

Thanksgiving is definitely an eating holiday.  The tradition involves a slew of tried and true favorites-- the turkey, oven roasted, stuffed with the special stuffing, and paired with all the favorite side dishes, like mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and olives.  And then of course there's the pumpkin dessert, usually pie but increasingly frequent is the cheescake.  And the whipped topping, of course.  But just as important is the leftover turkey and stuffing sandwich on sourdough, made the next day.  That's a great tradition.

Weddings?  Well, lots of people, a little dancing maybe, plenty of wine and beer, and no doubt food.  Got one coming up next year, and the bride is still shopping for her dress right now.  But traditions merit that family will gather, converse, and sometimes bicker, but more often laugh.  But again, eating will be a big part of things.

Now I'm hungry.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Running Around In Teenage Love

Counting down the last journal jar prompts... Here's #4...

What do you remember about yourself as a teenager?  What was important to you?  Your dreams?

Ah yes, that fateful time of teenage angst.  The radiant highs and the melancholy lows.  It was all there... 

I remember discovering girls in the 5th grade, but not really understanding the whole phenomenon until... well, maybe a week or so ago.  No, it got really complicated, and there were crushes and something that I tried to identify as love, but it really didn't work out that way.  Love is a process that you have to go through, much like grief and maturity and wisdom...  You can't come out of the box all fresh and expert on everything.  But we sure try, don't we?

There were many times that I struggled with myself-- struggled to like myself, and my place in society and the world.  I would turn inside and search  for answers.  I struggled to know God, and my relationship with him (or her, or whatever the case may be...)  I questioned my purpose, what was supposed to happen.  What was I meant to do, what was I meant to be.  And with whom would I spend my life with?

My memory is that I always had a longing for a long-term relationship.  I felt, as a teenager, that it was what I was meant to do-- find someone to fall in love with and live out our love forever.  Forever is a different length of time when you're a teenager-- forever could be the last few minutes of class, or the last few weeks before summer vacation.  Now that I'm in my forties, forever is a different length of time.  I wrote a few weeks ago that one man's eternity is another man's coffee break.  But I digress.

This relativity of time and perspective made for many complications.  For instance, I remember often feeling that my life was over, that things were taking "forever," or that I would never find my way.  I often had conversations with myself about how my life would play out.  Many of these conversations centered on certain girls who had my attention at the given time.  And just as often as the time and context changed, so did the name of the girl and my interest in her.

I do remember at one point feeling as if things were going well enough for me-- I was basically happy, doing well in school, had a plan for the future, had some friends... but the passion for another person, one who would complete me and forge a better tomorrow together with me... well, the passion just wasn't there.  Which isn't exactly true either-- the passion existed, but there was not one person out there in my existence to share it with.  I felt a longing to share myself with another person, but nobody in my class measured up.  I remember talking with God about this, and praying and wishing for that special person to meet, to get to know, to fall in love with, to discover the future with.

About that time, a new girl came to our school.  She was pretty without being showy or glamorous, understated and confident without being extroverted.  I immediately thought that God had sent her to me, sent her to this school for me to fall in love with and live happily ever after.  She caught the attention of many of the guys, but wasn't flirty or playful with the Casanova types.  She was smart and studious.  We had math class together and sat near each other, and my mind would wander off the topic of the lesson and I'd find myself wondering, "Could this be it?  Really?"  My small, immature reality would try to fathom what that would mean.  What was God's plan for me and her, if it was for me and her?

We ended up becoming friends.  We were on the track team together, and my best friend and I both quickly developed crushes on her.  The three of us would practice together after school.  My buddy did the high jump, and so did she, so they spent more time competing directly with each other.  I stayed back, not wanting my intentions known.  I was afraid to tell of my feelings and to be rejected.  Not to mention, I worried about my friendships to both her and my buddy.

Anyway.  This continued for a few weeks-- an eternity in high school time-- and finally I ended up having a conversation with each of them.  I explained to my buddy that I didn't want a girl to get in the middle of our friendship and ruin it.  He told me that he understood, and that although he liked her, it wouldn't end our friendship if she were to choose me over him.

Then she approached me about it, because I was still apprehensive and cautious.  I didn't want to cause problems with my buddy, and I was also scared of somehow messing up the opportunity to develop a relationship with her.  She didn't understand my concerns and felt that if you liked someone you should try and be with them.  I sensed that she was right, but I was still afraid-- afraid of what I wasn't quite sure.

About this same time that it was looking like this relationship would come to fruition, complications came into play.  I had made prior arrangements for an "old" friend that I had met at BYU during the Summer Scholar's Academy that I had attended-- she was to visit me for the spring formal dance.  I had fallen in love with her (at least as much in love as I was capable of for my level of maturity) while at the Academy and had kept in touch through letters.  I had even gone down to visit her in her home town in Arizona.  That had been when I found out that she had been with somebody else the whole time that she knew me-- a boyfriend from home.  Still, we were young and well, stupid.  So she still came to visit me on my turf for a few days.

I remember having a conversation with my friend at track practice where she expressed concern about the visit.  I told her that it really meant nothing, and that I just had to go through the motions and be nice to her.  Everything would go back to normal after the visit.

But you never go back.  And there's no such thing as normal.

Cheryl came to visit from Yuma, Arizona.  She went to classes with me for a day, then stayed the weekend and we went to the prom or whatever it was, going out to dinner with a group of buddies and dates at the Opera House and then checking out the dance before going with my buddy and our dates to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It wasn't very nice of me to do to my date, as she is Mormon and was surely uncomfortable because of the situations we put her in.  But anyway.  Again, I never said I was all that bright.  At least not all the time.  Especially as a teenager.

It was all weird.  For some weird reason I tried to re-establish a loving relationship with Cheryl, but she kept rebuffing my advances.  These were hand-holding and hugging sort of things, long before things would be complicated further by sexual ramifications.  I can hardly imagine how crazy things could have gotten if I had been empowered by a sense of confidence with sex!  That would have proven insane.

Anyway.  Cheryl made it back to her home in Yuma unscathed, and I pretty much lost interest in her.  But remarkably, I lost interest in my track friend, too.  I remember when I saw her next, something had changed inside of me.  I was off-plan.  I had strayed.  I was no longer of the mind that we were meant for some fairy tale ending.  Not that I knew all this then, but my fickle pubescent mind just jumped along to the next stimulus.

Many years have passed, and I wonder if I even recollect correctly all that I have written down already.  I have lived an interesting life, that is sure.  And I am certainly blessed to have made the connections I did to end up in the life of my lovely wife, with her amazing family and her capacity for caring and love.  But I have often wondered about the turns that my life has taken.  All the "what if's" are entertaining to explore. 

I wonder what this old friend remembers, from her side.  Has she thought about the "what if's" and what not?  It's easy for me to romanticize and imagine being able to go back to that time and make a single change-- turn left instead of right-- and go on living in a different reality that ignores the existence of the complications of the natural world... 

More recently, I had a dream where I ran into my track friend.  We talked about the lives we had lived, the lives we had once had together.  In the dream, I told her that I really had loved her for a time, that she really was important to me.  It felt right to finally get a chance to say this.  When I awoke, I was left with a yearning feeling to communicate with her somehow again.  I knew that she was special, a gift from God.  And I wanted to share that with her, acknowledge her.  Make her reflect on what a wonderful person she is.  To make her feel good about herself.

I leave it up to the universe to realize that end. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Couple Delicious Family Recipes

Getting down to the nitty gritty.  Start the countdown on the journal jar.  Here goes #5...

What is your favorite food?  When you cook for my family, what do you enjoy makinng most?

Interesting.  I wonder who wrote that.  And if I've ever cooked for his or her family.  I don't think my mom wrote all of these prompts in the journal jar, but I could be wrong.  So there's a mystery person out there, that I've secretly been cooking for before, and that I enjoyed cooking for-- so much in fact that there are a series of events from which I should choose a favorite?  Or maybe it's just a typo.  Hmm.  Yeah-- when I cook for my family, when you cook for your family...  Alright, enough.

My favorite food is undoubtedly pizza.  I love pizza.  Pizza, pizza, pizza.  Mushroom and olive, sausage and green pepper, sausage and pepperoni, ham and pineapple, chicken and garlic... all so good.

But when I cook for some other person's family...

No.  When I cook for my family, I enjoy making recipes with the pressure cooker.  Two of my favorite recipes involve the pressure cooker--  homemade shredded beef burritos and stuffed artichokes.

Hmm.  Those two don't sound so good together.  But they're delicious on their own.

The key to the burritos is the stew meat.  You place some stew meat-- chunks of beef-- in the pressure cooker with some water, maybe a little white wine, and close it up.  Cook it on medium heat (with the pressure cooker rocker valve a-rockin' away) for about 25 minutes, until the meat is tender and stringy.  Then you can add spices and refried beans to get your base substance for the burrito, and then assemble as you like into a warm tortilla with cheese, olives, sour cream, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, hot sauce, salsa... but remember you gotta wrap that tortilla around all the goodies, so don't over stuff!  Fun to prep all the fixin's and assemble at a burrito bar sort of thing.

The artichokes are yummy and quite healthy.  You cut the tops off of the 'chokes and spoon into the leaves a mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.  Then you place them in the bottom  of the pressure cooker with about a quarter inch of water.  We've been adding a dollop  of flax seed oil onto each 'choke so the edges of the leaves don't singe.  I also like to add a little white wine to the mix--  pour a little over each 'choke.  Then cook 'em for about 25 minutes, until the leaves are spread out and easily peeled off.  Then you just eat your way down to the heart-- you've gotta dig it out of a bit of spiney stuff, once the leaves get too small and tender to eat, but man, it's worth the work.  The heart is a wonderful delicacy, salt and peppered to taste.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Casting a Light Across the Night

Important.  Clever.  Witty.  Original.  Groundbreaking.  World-changing.

I want all my writing to live up to such standards.  But I settle for a little bit less.  Because when you set the bar too high, it only stops the flow of creativity.

So I'm taking the bar down entirely today.  No bar writing.  That's what this is.

I will attempt instead to write at the speed of my thinking. 

Now that's setting the bar low.

Just kidding.  No-- my thinking is fast, indeed too fast for me to type in step with it.  But then, my thinking occurs in forces and waves without words at times.  There is thinking that is beyond language, or of a language that has yet to be fully understood at this time.

Or maybe it's understood, but it cannot be explained by our language.  There is a language and understanding that is fundamental, essential, basic, inherent.  But is it so basic that it is too complicated to know?  Something like that...  Can we really know the language of our soul?

I think we can, but we can't quite articulate it.  Language is a tool that we humans have created to communicate, but it is still developing, mutating, evolving, to bring about the scope of our experience.  We are way behind the development of biology and science, although science as we know it is even younger than language.  But the biology is millions of years ahead of our words to describe it.

Even so, I think that understanding exists on a level that we are yet unable to describe with our words.  It's encoded in our DNA.  Things like truth, idealism, value, and quality are there, too, along with cooperation and democracy.  On the cellular level, things exist at a speed beyond words.  Literally.  Cells aren't pausing to think before they act.  They don't ponder which color blouse to wear with the jeans.  They are acting out a symphony of understanding and greatness that transcends language.

Makes me kind of obsolete, diminished.  Here I sit, trying to get at the heart of this idea and write about it with every faculty that I have, and I just don't got it.  But I keep trying.  Because I understand that moving towards the light, shedding light on the darkness, in any way I can,  makes the life.  Brings forth the understanding.  Brightens the awareness.  Forms the formless.  Astounds.

It's like mining for precious minerals.  Pick and scrape and brush and scrape some more, and something is revealed to you.  May not be the gold you are looking for, but there's something there.  And it may even be more valuable than you realize.

There are lessons to be learned at every turn, every chink in the armor.  You may think that your purpose is defined, explicit and unambiguous.  But you will be surprised at what you end up learning.  It's always that way.  We do not go forth into the night with our horizons in mind.  Learning is discovery, not manufacturing.  We understand as we look backward, not forward.

So turn on the headlamp and go.  See where it takes you.  There are scintillating surprises out there to be had.  Press on.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cooking Up Steam

Describe your cooking skills as a young person.  How did you learn to cook?

Thanks to the journal jar for this bubbling subject.

Seems to me I've blogged about this before already.  I'll have to get back to you on that.

I learned to cook mostly from my mother, who included me and allowed me to help her while she was cooking.  I would chop the vegetables, measure out spices, stir the sauces... just do the stuff that you have to do to cook, but just not be responsible for it all.  It's empowering to pitch in and help and end up earning some credit for a meal because you helped.  It's another thing to be the one in charge of the cooking.

A quick search of the blog provided this previous visit to the journal jar-- check it out here.  It reminds me of another aspect of cooking that I learned, but this time from my dad.  He taught me the art of BBQ.  And what an art that is.

But the real "formative" training in cooking was received in the 3rd grade, when our babysitter Sally Singleton came to the classroom and took a group of kids to the school cafeteria to cook a recipe.  Each week she took a group of kids and taught them a recipe, and then we eventually all made cookbooks for our mothers for Mother's Day with all of the recipes.  I bet my mom still has that recipe book somewhere, all covered in grease splatters from my repeated renditions of Waikiki Meatballs and Stir-Fry Vegetables.

I think I really learned to cook when I went away to college and started living on my own.  That's when I had to get creative and learn to cook with what I had.  Some of the stuff I did was delicious, other stuff not so good.  But I experimented and started to put meals together and balance tastes with textures.  And I started pairing things with wines, too.  All this made for more interesting dishes.  I once made dinner for my parents when I was home from college.  My friend Pete had helped me pick out some wine to cook with and serve with the meal.  The meal kind of amounted to a chicken stir-fry with vegetables-- snowpeas, to be sure-- but it fit the bill.  It was a success, and my mom remarked, and I remember, that I had "become quite the cook."  She may be a bit biased.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reading Is Fundamental

Describe the role of reading in your life.

Ha.  This one's sort of a repeat, from when the journal jar asked me about books.  See here and even here.  Oh-- here, too.

I gotta say, reading has been important.  From the RIF commercials when I was a kid, I learned that it was essential.  Reading is fundamental.  It facilitates so much.  Like, my audience, for example.  It allows for great writing to be processed and shared.

And not so great writing, too.

Reading for me has been spiritual practice.  Not always, of course.  Like when I read the paperback version of The Billion Dollar Hobo, for instance.  But reading is transcendental.  It takes you places-- at speeds unknown in the "real" world.  You can transport yourself to another universe by reading.  You can travel back (or forth) in time.  Reading is learning, is stretching of the intellect.

As opposed to drinking, which can transport you to another reality, yes, but at the cost of a severe headache and hangover.

That's why writing is so important.  Writing what is on your mind and really feeling it, really getting down with what you're thinking and what you feel can be so important.  Communicating with others, now and in the future, your writing can do that.  Writing something down puts it out there for the potential of another's experience.  Be they sibling, spouse, or space-alien.

Recently, I took a walk back in time by digging out one of my old journals and reading through it.  Nearly twenty years had passed since I had cracked the binding on this particular journal.  I ended up reading the entire thing in a couple hours.  But even more interesting-- when I dug out the journal, I found a letter that I had written to one of my friends.  It had to be about 15 years old.  I had written it and sealed it up, not knowing if it would ever be delivered to him or not.  I had lost touch with him and didn't know if I'd ever reconnect with him.  Just recently, we re-established contact, and he visited the area and we met for drinks and caught up.  So when I found the letter, I was excited to share it with him.  I sent it to him with a note about how I didn't even know what I had written, but how it had come about and about how old the letter was.  I told him that I would love to hear from him about what I said, after he received and read the letter.

Of course, I haven't heard anything.  But it's only been a couple weeks.  Just another reason for him to get back in touch with me, right?

Reading can heal you, can make you a better person.  It is powerfully transformative.  Use it with respect.  As one does with writing, as well.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Games People Play

When you were a child, what games did you play in your house or neighborhood?

 My sister and I didn't play games together very often, because I would always be accused of cheating.  I did have the advantage of being older, and therefore more "learned" than her.  If we did play a game, at the first sign of my sister losing or my winning the game, out came the accusation.  So we didn't do board games much.

I remember playing Stratego a bit, and liking it.  But that was probably because I won.  But I didn't cheat.  I just had superior intellect.

We had fun playing with her tape recorder for a while.  We'd listen to music and sing along, and sometimes do silly commentaries on the lyrics.  My sister wanted to be a singer when she grew up.  She performed for us a couple times, signing along with a record.  (This was before Karaoke was invented.)  I think I still have some cassette tapes that she and I made, pretending to have a "show" and doing skits.  I wonder if those cassettes would still play...

We played Monopoly a bit, and Life.  We had a lot of board games...  Monster Dash.  We enjoyed Bingo and Yahtzee.  We even played Trivial Pursuit a few times.

I remember playing quite a few games of tag.  Freeze tag and cartoon tag-- lots of different variations on just the simple chase game.  In cartoon tag you could be "safe" if you said a cartoon just before you were tagged by the person who was "it," as long as it was a cartoon nobody else had said already.  What other variations were there?  Blob tag, where the "it" person tags people and they become part of the "it" blob, all together running around trying to tag the last of the running free folks...

We played some serious hide and seek somedays.  I could usually lose myself in my mom and dad's walk-in closet.  Even if you turned the light on, you couldn't see through the hanging clothes. 

We played some video games, but not a lot.  We didn't have the game systems like a lot of our friends did.  I did eventually get an Atari 5200 and played a bunch of Pac-Man and Joust, River Raid, Pitfall, and even Breakout.  I made a nuisance of myself borrowing games from a family friend regularly.  I'd ride my bike over to their house just to ask if I could borrow a game or two, since I didn't have the money to buy the games for myself, and I didn't have a job at the time (I was underemployed then, too).

I am thankful for the safety and comfort that I was afforded during my childhood, such that play was allowed and encouraged.  Thanks to mom and dad for doing a great job for us kids.  I know it wasn't always easy.