Showing posts from December, 2011

Mountains and Valleys, Version 2011

We got back from our trip to Pigeon Forge, TN yesterday. It was a good trip, albeit a lot of driving. The cabin was nice. It was part of a multi-home development that went up the mountainside. I can't say I agree with the mentality of destroying mountains with this kind of developmental blight, but the view was spectacular. While we were there, I saw the need for hiking to the top of the mountain. It was a small mountain, but the climb was steep at times. Once I got past the paved section of road, it turned to gravel, so it wasn't that difficult of a climb, just strenuous. It was far from a nature hike in that I passed lots of empty electrical and water utility boxes that were set into the ground as part of future development. It looked to be a case of a development that had either lost its funding in the housing bust, or was just planned for slow development as the money came in. When I got to the top, I took a few pictures and the bad video you see on this blog. It was a

The Night Before The Night Before

In my youth, this was not a good night for me. You see, we typically would open all of our gifts on Christmas Eve. Way back when us kids were all quite young, we would pile into the car and trek all the way to White Bear Lake to our aunt Helen's house. Her family and my grandma and grandpa would meet there, have a huge dinner in the basement family room and then, after every dish was done and dry, we would head upstairs to open presents. It was for this reason that I grew into adulthood thinking presents should be passed out and opened on Christmas Eve. I still do. Because we celebrated on Christmas Eve, I spent most of Dec. 23rd wishing it away. I would watch the hours tick by, not wanting to wait until the next day to open all my gifts. I would work myself up so much that sometimes I would be on the verge of throwing up. Working myself up to the point of being sick. I've always been an internalizer, so this was the perfect storm of worry and anxiety, and excitement and joy

The Drumming of my Heart

As my obsession with my own mortality continues to dominate my thoughts, I've become incredibly attuned to commonplace things of beauty on a regular basis. Lately it's been in music. Take for example Middle Schoolers singing Christmas carols. Last night was a "worship night" at Mosaic's Sunday PM  which is the 6-8 grade ministry at church. I lead a small group of about six boys in the sixth grade, but they are part of hundreds of middle-schoolers that attend regularly. Usually our night is divided up into 3 areas; gym time, large group teaching and small groups. Because we're so close to Christmas, they just made last night to be mostly singing and then released to small groups. There was a single guitarist/vocalist, Jayden Lee (formerly of Sons of Korah ) who lead the group of students. Because their voices weren't drowned out by the usual over-accompaniment of drums, bass, etc, the student voices were more audible than usual. The young voices filled

The Spirit of Now and Then

I'm working on trying to get into the Christmas spirit, whatever that is. We've had our tree up for a couple of weeks and the same goes for the Christmas lights outside. There has been no snow at all around here, so it's looking more like March outside than December. (I'm REALLY okay with that too. Really.) It seems that you can't force the spirit upon yourself. You can surround yourself with lights and carols and shopping and feasting, but if you're not content, none of that stuff is going to make you happy. You can't buy, eat  or see happiness, it just is. I always think that once the lights and the tree is up, then I'll be "in the spirit" and magically change my attitude, and am always a little shocked when it doesn't happen instantly. For me it's like a slow burn that builds up as Christmas gets nearer. I always manage to hit Christmas Zen, but sometimes it's not until as late as Christmas Eve service, which is fitting anywa

A Look Back at the First Fifty

This is likely the last post before I officially become an AARP target. This Sunday I hit 50 and I'm having a little problem with it, frankly. It's not even because I feel old, per se. It's more about what else it means. It means when I read in the paper that someone died at 61, that I'm only 11 years from that. I can remember vividly the surprise party for Donna's father's 50th birthday. Her father. He was old then. That would make me...old, I guess. A list of things I was glad I did in my first 50 years: 1. Worked and paid my way through my last two years of High School and all of College. (With ZERO debt, mind you.) 2. Lived in a dumpy first apartment. It allowed me to appreciate the nice ones more later. 3. Took a job in mapping for $5.00/hour out of college to gain some valuable experience. If I would have snubbed that job I might never have known the joy I've had working in GIS/Mapping all these years. 4. Moved away from home to take my secon

December Thoughts of a Sagittarian

December 2011 is upon us. It was unusually mild today with clear skies and little if any wind. November was fairly mild too. There was no snow to speak of in November and no real cold snaps either. You don't know how happy this makes me. I am not a big fan of winter. I don't like ice fishing much, and am not really a downhill skier. I cross country ski and when I do, I really enjoy it. At the same time if it meant not skiing all year because there was no snow, I'll take the no snow, every time. So if you throw in a mild week at the end of November and no snow as of Dec. 1st, well, that makes winter just that much shorter for me. Seriously, I appreciate every mild or snow/rain-less day. I know, I know, if I don't like winter what am I doing living here? That is the question. I did get my outdoor Christmas lights on today. I started this task 2 weeks ago but ran into two strings that were defective, so I just quit. Donna picked up a couple of new ones, and so I