Friday, April 29, 2005

The Simple Life

I love the simpler things in life. I prefer a standard cell phone (no PDA, streaming video, pictures), a simple movie where good triumphs over evil, a game of Pong instead of the XCube, and getting plain-colored clothes, instead of the funky stuff that Geri picks out sometimes. Probably most evident of my "simple life" is food. Give me a cheeseburger, burrito, hot dog, any ole' steak (who cares about the "cut")-and I'm in hog heaven.

Tonight I am eating before Geri gets home. My menu of choice is shells and stewed tomatoes. To me this defines Comfort Food. I remember many times hopping over to Jefferson Street for a quick meal with Grandma. Despite her arthritis, she was an incredible cook-probably out of necessity with so many men in the house, and later an extensive extended family. But I digress...this is simply a great and quick meal that I associate with many shared memories. Comfort Food.

Tied for first place on the Comfort Food meal list is Grannys fried tacos. Same story, but Geri likes these better (as a meal) than just shells and tomatoes.

Another tie for first place-dessert menu category is Grandma's Sugar Cookies (both dough in the freezer, and baked. I just love the skim of sugar on top of the cookies. I relished (bad pun) the thought of the Sugar Cookie Care Package. Great tasting even if completely broken and crumbled in the zip lock bag. The other winner is Grandma's Apple Butter.

Aint Light Great

Last night was awesome. After working all day in rain/sprinkles/drizzle/ominous threat of rain, the clouds parted enough at 7pm for me to take some great pictures of the lighting project I'm working on. I love this aspect of my business-looking at the fruit of your labor. Someone asked me what artistic abilities I have, that relate to my business. Being a photographer, I love composition and light. Landscape lighting is like designing a portrait of light that changes as the ambient light fades to nighttime.

I finally left the jobsite after my camera batteries died, but my overwhelmiing thought was that I couldn't accomplish all of this without God. He has given me great gifts in life. I feel like the conduit I use to put electrical wires in. I really have a simple task here on this earth. That is to be a conduit, and let God's power be evident in what I do. God is the one doing the work, supplying the power, and giving light to an otherwise dark world. Hopefully I am a good conduit for His light to shine through.

Today my dad leaves on a 2 week mission trip to the Ukraine. He is in my prayers.

I also want to take Geri out to a movie tonight. She has been working on a big presentation that she gives in an hour. If anyone is reading this, how about some suggestions.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

WWDD, again

I seem to have fallen off this horse named Blog. Things have been extremely time consuming with work, as well as preparing for my Wed night lessons. There are alot of thoughts forming in my mind, but I'll pick on one from this morning.

On Sunday mornings I love to flip the TV while sipping my coffee. My quest is to find out if Joel O'S____ actually uses Jesus as a reference in his sermons. I only had 12 minutes today, but alas no mention of Him.

Today he talked about how God works in your decision making. His point was if you feel uneasy about decisions you are making at the time, God is telling you "no". His illustrations: Joel didn't buy a tie at a certain store. He had an "uneasy feeling", and did not have "Peace". Lo and behold, the same tie was 1/2 price at the next store. Praise Be!

Illustration 2: Joel's bro-in-law researched and researched for his dream truck. He backed out of the deal at the last second. He had an uneasy feeling, and did not have Peace. Lo and behold, the dealer called him back to tell him about a $5000 rebate for anyone buying that truck. Praise Be, again.

Illustration 3: "Daddy" (The patriarchal O'S____-Joel's Daddy) didn't start breaking the ground on their present Sanctuary until the 4th or 5th attempt at raising money, because he had an uneasy feeling, and did not have peace. By the way, I am convinced that Joel still has a "WWDD" bracelet on. What Would Daddy Do.

Illustration 4: The Apostle Paul. I cannot remember the verse, but evidently his scripture of the day attempted to correborate his sermon. This verse supposedly dealt with some thought that Paul did not act unless he had peace in his decision.

Joel's sermon in a nutshell: Make good decisions. If decisions you make feel good from the heart, then they are decisions in harmony with God's will.

It is interesting that he never mentioned the Prince Of Peace as an illustration, or that man's thinking is inhrently flawed, or that just having a clean conscience has no bearing on Gods will (Reference the real story of Paul (Saul), and what he did with "his" conscience.

As a motivational speaker, Joel is alright. As a preaching man of God's Word-you be the judge. I am still not impressed.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Great Places

Now that I am on my way of realizing there is more places to live than Colorado, I have made a mental list. This list is comprised of places I've been, but would love to "live" there for a "season"-not permanently. Geri would probably agree on most of these. So here it goes in no particular order:

1. Paris, France
2. NYC
3. Melbourne Beach Area in Florida
4. Ste Mere Eglise, Normandy, France
5. Munich, Germany
6. Florence, Italy
7. Somewhere outside London
8. Washington D.C.
9. Rome, Italy
10. Antiqua
11, Telluride, CO (sorry, I had to sneak that in)
12. Texas Hill Country
13. Somewhere South of Cancun on the Mayan Riveiera beaches
14. Vienna, Austria
15. Durnstein, Germany (on the banks of the Danube)
16. Oklahoma City again. I still love the Sooners. This would make it easy to hit all the games in Norman
17. Hana, Maui, Hawaii
18. Keystone, CO. Only since we pay the condo mortgage every month-might as well get some use out of it. If anyone's in the market for a studio condo at the resort, let me know!

All in all, home is where Geri is (and Benjamin-soon enough). That's good enough for me.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Lets S-tablish where home is

Sometimes in my inner thoughts, I cringe at the fact that we moved from Colorado. We miss our friends, the good restaurants, seeing the mountains with a little dusting of snow on the peaks...most of all our friends, and Littleton C of C. This weekend all I can think about is how glad I am to be here in St Louis, where we are a bit more accessable for family to visit (and vice versa). My sister and her little daughter have been visiting, and it has been a blast so far. We have hit the zoo, walked around, spent time at the park...I'm beginning to think that everything this little one likes, begins with the letter "S". Let's examine my theory: Squirrels, Sticks, Slides, Sand, Sandboxes, Sandbox Toys, Swing Sets, Sandwiches, the list goes on. Tonight I hope there will be plenty of Shampoo and Soap. That little girl is a ball of dirt head to toe.

So I ponder about living in a beautiful state like Colorado-the obsession of most of my life, versus being able to spend a weekend with family, living right back in the same state I grew up in. No Contest. Meet Me In St Louie! I can always catch a plane to the mtns.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Just a quick note on a movie I saw tonight. It was called "Der Untergang". This is German for The Downfall. Very powerful movie about Hitler's last days, and those around him. Hitler was pure alright...a purely evil nut. The same goes for his lackeys, and "yes" men and women.

People can cry and whine all they want about our government (ie: The Man, Big Brother, etc...). It isn't perfect, but it seems like a white dove compared to 30-40's style Germany.

This movie gets a thumbs up, but what do I know as a movie critic. I also recommend Dumb & Dumber, Strange Brew, Office Space, and Veggie Tales.

Ramblin' Thought For The Day

I'm reading a book by one of the funniest guys I know, Terry Bradshaw. What drew me to his book is that it is his "coming out" party with respect to his struggles with Depression and ADD. This is something that has both plagued and enhanced his life.

I feel a kindred spirit with Terry. No, I am not an All American QB. I was also diagnosed with depression and ADD. (Master of the obvious, and much to no ones suprise) I do not struggle in the least with depression anymore. After taking the usual drugs @ 4 years ago, something kickstarted my brain chemistry (I guess). No more drugs needed, no more depression. Kaput.

I am comfortable with the fact I am quite ADD. I think it sparks a creativity that otherwise wouldn't be tapped into. When I was seeing Dr Miller about how to deal with this, he explained that caffeine acts as a "lubricant" with folks like me. Ironically it normalizes and slows things down just a bit. This probably explains why I can drink a pot of coffee before bed without thinking about it. Of course this also explains why I need to use rubber sheets (just kidding).

My point is that it is a blessing when you come to grips with, and accept who you are. This applies if you have ADD, depression, a big nose, skinny legs, a peanut head, and webbed toes (guilty on all counts but one-thanks to surgery). After all, it's not about who you are, but whose you are!

On another random note. We have a funny neice (Abby) in OKC that wanted to see if it would be OK to call our son "Bennie Boy". I told her it would be alright, but only if GG and I could call her "Pedro"--a moniker she doesn't particularly like. After much thought on her part, we struck an agreement. I love conversations like that. Darrel and Leslie have done a great job with instilling a good sense of humor in those girls. Hopefully we can do the same with Bennie Boy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What a day. This morning I got a call from my 68 year old buddy, Ed. Ed is a lifelong St Louisan (I guess that is what you call us from STL). He is a retired bank president with alot of time on his hands, and he is a rabid Cardinals fan.

It turned out he had an extra ticket for this afternoons game against the Reds, so he gave me the call. Who wouldn't turn down 7th row tickets off 1st base? Well, not me. This is a prime reason I have my own business! A perk so to speak. I create my own schedule.

After watching the Reds have a field day with our star $6.5M pitcher, the Cards were finally set for a final battle in the 9th to take the win. They had been playing catch up all day long, and the bats were coming alive in the 9th. The Reds decided to intentionally walk Larry Walker (our $12.5M slugger, and a favorite of mine since his days with the Rockies), to take their chances with the heart and soul of our lineup, Albert Pulos (paltry $11M).

Now...if I were Albert....I would be mad they walked someone to get to ME for an out (of course the real ME would be in the $1,500 range). I would have hit a towering drive to rub it in their face ! The game and my All Star status would have been settled with my stick!

Alas....I'm not Albert, and all of his millions couldn't buy him out of his game-ending double-play. What a game, though! I'll be back for more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Greatest Generation?

Life is good. I sent off the final adoption/acceptance paperwork packet to Dillon Int'l this morning, and am quite jazzed about having a boy. Since we are bumping into Tax Day, I decided to get my rump into gear and sign the mountains of 2004 tax paperwork the CPA gave us.

This week I am having to double up on my lessons for Wednesday. Geri and I frittered away the weekend in Washington D.C. She went up for a symposium, and I flew out on Friday morning. What an incredible city (except for the traffic). We spent Friday going to the Air and Space portion of the Smithsonian, walking The Mall, and visiting the WWII memorial. We also reunited with Jason and Amanda Carter. We spent good time with them in Denver, and love them dearly.

Since we travel so much all over the world, it is easy to take these little breaks for granted. It seems that we go on 1 or 2 big trips a year without a thought (and countless weekenders), all the while the same trips are "trips of a lifetime" for others. I am humble and feel blessed though.

It was stirring to walk The Mall. I couldn't help but think of the great events that shaped our country, that happened right there. I might be wrong, but isn't this where MLK shared "His Dream" with a country full of hatred and racism? Awesome. Of course I was also wondering how many times during the Cold War, Russian spies contacted American turncoats right here in this parcel of land.

The most emotional event was when we visited the WWII Memorial. I was almost moved to tears knowing the sacrifices these men and women made in those dark days. I took a great picture of an elderly gentleman (with his veterans cap) standing by an inscription describing their sacrifices during that time. I also took a picture of the section honoring the battles/veterans who fought in Luzon, where my dad's uncle Jiggs got killed. They were/are certainly a Great Generation.

I have a problem with the term, "The Greatest Generation". It has been too limiting in praise. I absolutely feel that someone who volunteers (or might be drafted)...well, anyone that goes to war, has the right to be considered part of a "Great Generation". It is asking something significant to have them possibly die in a foreign field. I think not only of guys I know that fought the "Good War", where Hitler and Tojo put an evil face for us to fight against. I also think of others that were asked to put their life on the line-no matter what war! What about Jimmy in Bosnia, Jason in Somalia, Jay in Iraq, The soldier I met going over to Iraq this past fall (who was visibly shaking). What about Larry's efforts leading river boats in Viet Nam, or my friend from North MacArthur (part of the Frozen Chosin). These soldiers deserve the utmost honor and gratitude irregardless of which war, skirmish, military action they took part in. Yes our grandfathers were part of a Great Generation. They dealt with events such as the Depression, having to go without jobs, food, the prospect of not having a job, the prospect of maybe not having supper. After that, many dealt with the real problems of possibly dying in a strange land away from family. (ie: Hershel Luck). If you haven't...get off your duff and thank a vet for their service-whether they saw action or not. All these soldiers are the "Greatest Generation"!

We'll off my soapbox. I need to study for our Bible class tomorrow.

OK, another thing I have a problem with is Fox Radio. I typically agree with their viewpoints, but resent the "Younger, Smarter, Better" slogan they constantly hit us with. Most of what I have learned in this world has come from some folks that the world might call Old and Dumb.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Awesome News

It's pretty amazing to think that one day Geri and I will be parents. Throughout the lengthy adoption process, we have been patient. Our philosophy is that God will provide us our child. Our faith never waivered, but our patience wore thin. I probably mentioned earlier that we decided to switch programs from Korea to Guatemala. We still don't have all our paperwork (dossier) completed, but somehow God was still with us. Last night we got "the call" from Dillon Int'l. If all checks out-we have a baby Boy. We are pumped! with the exception of having to wait 4-6 months to see him. It isn't completely final, but close. Suddenly 2 became 3. As Napolean says...Sweet! I won't tell Mom or Dad until everything is "official", so if you are family and reading this...mums the word.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Great day

What a day. I started by picking up the check for an upcoming job. In the land of having your own business, this is the litmus test. Where the rubber meets the road. I am always mindful that God provides.

We went to our beloved state capital to get some final adoption documents certified, and get our fingerprints done for the umpteenth time. One thing that Missouri has over Oklahoma is that our state capital actually has a dome. A capital without a dome is somewhat like ZZ Top without beards. Seems odd, but I was a great day to be with Geri. We topped it off with going to the outlet mall (somewhere off I-70). Along with the usual junk-cheap books, a casual shirt...we bought a cute shirt/sweater for our baby to-be-announced-later. If it were up to me, our baby would be dressed "Colorado". Another word for fashionably slobby. Fortunately Geri has good taste that overrides my quick decisions.

We finished the day with a run on the track. It's that time of year when the local kids start trying out. I love to see the "coach" out there interacting with the kids. He reminds me of my pee-wee football coach, Ed Gift. Even though he was a young black man in a predominately white town in SW Missouri, he was a tower of enthusiasm and integrity. Ed died at a very early age (in his 30's I believe), but left his wife and kids with a legacy of a great father and friend to many of us kids. I look forward to being this kind of dad to my kids. Money and a great house don't matter. It is the relationships you made while on earth. Thanks Ed.

If you actually read this blog. Feel free to post people that influenced you as a kid.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Ramblin' Thoughts to start the weekend

Something big is stirring today. No, I'm not talking about the weather. I'm talking Double Date. We have some great friends who have found someone to sit for their 3 kids while we trapse through downtown St Louis tonight. With Arch Madness going on, I think we will start by having dinner at the Central West End, and then proceed downtown to see what is up, and who we can see. I would love to bump into a radio host named Tim Brando. He is excellent. Jim Rome would be fun to meet as well.

I did mention this is a double date, but there will be a 5th. Flat Stanley. He is a crayon-colored cutout that was sent to us by our nephew Matt, in Tulsa. Matt is doing a project with his class to send Flat Stanley to folks, in order to have his picture taken at interesting places around the country...or world. We will definitely introduce Flat Stanley to the Arch and Final 4 festivities. Next weekend Geri and I will be in Washington DC, so we will give FS the "tour" there as well.

My pick is for North Carolina to seal the deal down the stretch...sorry Illini fans. I like Roy Williams.

On a good note. Our adoption "switch" from Korea to Guatemala is progressing very nicely. I even had a great experience yesterday at the INS offices. No bureaucratic red-tape, just some nice ladies who were excited to help me officially switch countries to get our baby. Of course they were glad to take the $195 "change" fee. The red tape actually starts next week. To complete our dossier, we need to drive to Jefferson City to get fingerprinted (for the 4th time). I also have to have my newly delivered birth certificate "certified" while at Jeff City. I'm beginning to think this stuff is a scam to bring in $ to the gov't coffers.

Talking about our future boy, we are still debating on names. It used to be that the only criteria I had was it had to sound good over the PA system (ie: at a football or basketball game). One name I used to love was Jamelle. It sounded great at OU when they would announce Jamelle Holloway (former QB). Needless to say-naah. Geri wants a name that "means something", and both of us liked Jacob, but found out it means "deceiver". Still like it, but ...Naah. If you have suggestions, please let me in on it.