Saturday, June 17, 2006

See a different world

I am in Boston for the next two weeks. I will be posting more pictures that writings. In distance we are very far away from Waco, in people we are very close, but in how people react we again are very far apart.

I keep noticing that people here in Boston aviod eye contact. They don't look directly at anyone who is not talking to them. Even the police officer, whom by training should scan for threats, will not look at you when you walk towards them.
The other difference I have noticed is that people in theT-line (their trolly cars) have no problems getting pressed against each other. They are packed in shoulder to shouder, back to back and chest to chest. I think in Waco people would rather wait for another car that was less crowded that get into one where you have to be touching and be touched by a complete stranger. Even more unapplealing is feeling someone elses breath on the back of you neck, ears, shoulders or face.
Traffic on the streets fast and furious. Car move quickly and stop suddenly. The use of the horn appears to be mandatory. You see many close calls but so far we have not seen a single car accident. People seem to be used to everyone driving aggressively so they also drive expectanly. They are ready to stop to avoid the other aggressive driver.
Their weather here at this time of years is perfect. Warm during the day (warm by Texas standards) and cool at night. Perfectf for outdoor activities.

There are tons of people riding bikes, running, jogging, walking, skating, boating, etc. I have never seen sidewalks used so efficiently. They move like cars but with out horns.


In Boston and loving it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day in Waco

I went by a local cemetery where they were having a ceremony in honor of all the military personnel who have died fighting in the many wars this country has been involved. It was short, with few people attending. Mostly older people. Congressman Ched Edwards was there along with some of our local veterans. There was an Honor Guard from one of the local schools.
Towards the end of the ceremony there was a lonely bugle call. It was a beautiful sunny morning with green, green grass, blue skies... too few people showed up. The bugle was made of shiny chrome; the old man bringing it to life was in his white starched shirt, crisp VFW cap. An old soldier gave a crisp salute to our flag as the national anthem played. The young Honor Guard stood rigid with flags flying in the gentle breeze. When it was over everyone walked to their car and drove off.

I made it back to my son's truck and was waiting for them to finish getting their daughter buckled in. I turned back to the area where we had been and saw a single figure walking. One veteran had stayed behind... maybe for a few private moments with his memory of those who had sacrificed their lives for all of us.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A road sign up ahead...


Have you ever been to a place and wondered who else has been there?
My wife and I were driving around in Ft. Stockton, TX, a few years ago looking for things to photograph. It was a warm winter day with lots of sunshine and clear skies. I don't know if others have driven down the same roads and streets for the same purpose. I do know that someone went down one road and left a sign marking their journey. They left an unusual and non-damaging posting of their being at that one spot.
It was a stuffed bear on a mesquite tree...in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road.
I knew someone that use to do thing like that. He had a good sense of humor and a vivid imagination. That was my dad. He was quiet and reserved, a very hard worker even after he got to his mid 60s.
We use to work on a survey crew. We spent most of our time out in the boonies and would come upon items dumped by people on the side of the road. One day we came upon an old sofa, a broken end table and a broken floor lamp. I was the crew chief and took time to catch up on my notes while seating in the Blazer. My dad and Tio, the other chainman, were seating on the tailgate marking the stakes we would use later during the day. After a few minutes I looked up to see my dad messing with the items on the side of the road. He set the table on one side of the sofa and the lamp on the other. He sat on the sofa and opened up a newspaper to read. It was a disconcerting sight. Cars would drive by and slow down to look a this man sitting on a sofa with a lamp and a table next to it reading a newspaper on the side of the road.
Another time we come upon a dead deer. A vehicle had just hit it. My dad dragged it off the road. He tucked the legs underneath the body and then took a stake and drove it into the ground next to the deer. He used a piece of rope to tie the dears head to the stake making the deer look like it was laying down resting with its head up looking at the traffic go by. We worked the area for most of the day and could see cars slowing down to look at the deer. Some drivers would honk and kids would yell at it trying to get it to react to them.
If he found a boot or shoe he would put it over a fence post. He was fond of taking dead snakes and coiling them next to a survey point or property corner and propping up their heads with small sticks. He new the next surveyor would get a good scare out of it. Anyways, I worked with my dad for close to 20 years. I knew him as my father all my life but those 10 years allowed me to know him as a friend. I got to see his full personality. I love those days spent with him working.
One day I went to photograph some graffiti I had seen in Waco. My son went with me. We found a lot of tags under an overpass. These road signs are more damaging and show some disregard for the property owner. I photographed them because they are still signs left by someone who has been at that same place. I took a picture of my son next to some of the graffiti. It's a very good photo. I like the contrast between his image and the outline of the silhouette on the wall.
There are many posting left by those who walk ahead of us. Sometimes we missed seeing them because we are in to big a hurry to get where we are going. I love looking for them and then trying to figure out what the person was trying to tell those of us whom one day would follow the same road. Now some signs are non-damaging and some create a lot of damage. I am not condoning leaving signs that damage others property, but I still look for all signs. I prefer to find the kind that my dad left, the ones that make you wonder who was there and what made them leave that sign, like the bear in the mesquite tree. Was it their bear? Was it something they found while walking the road? Were they going somewhere? Who were they?
What about you, what road signs have you left?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Growing old


And so the years move on, youth stays farther and farther behind. What was a clear memory begins to fade. All those clear pictures of days past start looking as blurry as the newspaper print when I try reading with out bi-focal glasses.
“When I was young…” refers to a different era as more years pile on. It used to refer to the time when I was 5, then when I was 10, then 20, and then 30, etc. The benchmark also increases, “old” was 18, then 30, then 40, now it means 60, cause 50 is too close. Yeah, an oldie was a song from the 50’s not me!
I try to run as often a possible and I also lift weights. I no longer do it to look athletic or to have a good body, now it’s just so I don’t sag in all the exposed places. The places I can cover up can be adjusted with spandex. I exercise now just to maintain.
It is so hard to talk about people as your nephews and nieces when they are already in their mid 30’s. It is hard to work with people that were born after you graduated from high school. It’s even harder to hear that they are tearing down buildings because after 40 years they have out lived their usefulness. I saw pictures of the Rolling Stones and it is sad to see those who were so cool when you were young now look like the living dead. It is incredible that so many wrinkles can cover such skinny bodies.
Just about ever thing changes, for better or for worse. I heard a Beatle song when I was young and it never made an impact on me until I got old and heard the same song sung by Bette Midler. The song was “In my life”. I realized that what makes getting old worthwhile is living through all those moments in our life, the good ones, the boring ones, some of the bad ones and of course those great moments. You will recognize a great moment when it comes back to you. It is the one that brings that slight smile to your face when you are by yourself, the one that brings that bright twinkle to those eyes that have been dulled by so many passing years. Yes, like the memory of swinging under a shady tree when you were five.
Happy Birthday, sister. Stay young at heart.


In My Life
Lennon/McCartney

There are places I remember
All my life,
though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better.
And some have gone, and some remain.
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can’t recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life I love them all.
But of all these friends and lovers,
There is no one compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I’ll never ever lose affection
For people and things that went before,
I know I’ll often stop and think about them.
In my life I love you more.
I love you more,
I love you more.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Cactus



Years ago we ended up with this young cactus. I don't remember where it came from or from whom. My wife said it belonged to my oldest son. One year it grew a flower bud, but the same day a windy rainy storm came by. The cactus was blown over and its lone bud fell off. It never opened. We set it back up in the corner of the yard. The cactus didn't need watering or much care at all. We left it pretty much on its own.

The next year it had two blossoms, two bright red flowers, huge. The flowers were a big contrast to the plain thorny cactus. We took pictures, called friends and moved the cactus to a more prominent place in our backyard. The following year it gave three flowers, after that four and then five and then six.... Every year more flowers, everyone as bright and beautiful as those first two. Now every year we wait, camera in hand for the day that the cactus will bloom. This year we had seven flowers and the cactus now sat in a newer flowerpot, having out grown its old one. A real gem in our backyard.

Everyday I see kids running around, neglected by the parents, forgotten by other family members, growing on their own. They get little or no attention, minimum care and very little love and compassion. I also see a few caring people who volunteer their time and effort and provide some care and compassion for this kids. I see teachers, police officers, youth ministers, and others reaching out to these kids as they grow older. One day one of this kids will, like the cactus, blossom and provide something beautiful for this world and everyone will come to take pictures, call friends and move him/her to a more prominent place in society. Like the cactus, their first bud may never open into a beautiful flower, they will also have to weather some storms, but with encouragement they will bloom again.

Look around you, any cactus in your backyard? How about children in your neighborhood in need of a little attention? Yes, like the cactus, because of their environment they have grown thorns for their protection, and they may prick you if you touch them, but if you are careful you can encourage, care for and nourish them. One day you may see people running to them, camera in hand, calling their friends and moving them to that prominent place in society.....Thank you all who volunteer time, effort and commitment to helping those who are forgotten by our society. Keep on caring....

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dreams and Memories



I stepped out into the warm sunlight on this cool morning, and it brought back some old memories of a childhood long ago left behind. I heard the crowing of a rooster far away in the distance, the fading in and out of Mexican music from an old radio, the warm smell of tortillas, the distant bark of an old dog…. None of these things were here now; they were all buried deep in the memories of a childhood from very long ago and far, far away.
I sat down and put on an old record…listened to an old song. The images, sounds, feelings, and emotions that were stored somewhere in the back of my being came back. Some in small bits of information, some as strong shattering feeling, some as warm tingling indescribable sensations, and others as clear pictures of people and places that were my companions, friends, family and of where we lived, played, cried, and celebrated life.
Where did the tear come from…
Was it from knowing that those moments are forever gone …or that they will always be here in my mind and in my heart? Was it because of the happiness they recall…or because of the sadness of knowing that we can never go back?
Where did the smile come from…
I know this answer, it was from that warm feeling that started at the center of my chest and expanded through out my body. I love those memories, that is why I keep those old records, the old photos, the old T-shirt, that letter I’ve read over and over, my children’s’ first lock of hair, the memory of that first kiss from my wife, the image of the first time I saw her… through the second story window at Miners Hall.
I wonder if Heaven will be a reunion of all those persons I have met in this life; all my friends, my family, my teachers and everyone who has touched my life, a never-ending reunion where all those who leave this world end up at, where every memory is re-lived and experienced again…yes, I believe I will see you there.
words from an old song
“Just a song before I go, to whom it may concern. Travelling twice the speed of sound, it's easy to get burned. When the shows were over, we had to get back home,and when we opened up the door I had to be alone. She helped me with my suitcase, she stands before my eyes, driving me to the airport and to the friendly skies. Going through security I held her for so long. She finally looked at me in love, and she was gone. Just a song before I go, a lesson to be learned. Travelling twice the speed of sound, it's easy to get burned.” Crosby Stills Nash Young - Just A Song Before I Go

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The unwanted war...


I saw the news this morning about the mom protesting the war outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. I read about Bush's comments on how everyone in America needing to make sacrifices. I see Bush taking a month of vacation while America makes sacrifices. I see pictures of Bush meeting with Lance Armstrong to go bike riding, but he can't meet with one mom who's son was killed in Iraq.
I read about a father who is proud his son died a hero in Iraq. I read about a mother who is very proud that her son sacrificed his limbs in Iraq and is now crippled for life. It is good to have these kind of parents who are willing to sacrifice their children for support of Bush. I wonder what their sons think. Do they feel that their sacrifice is sufficient or should Bush send at least one of his daughters to sacrifice her life or a body part for the war on terrorism?

I will always be proud of my sons if they get to be old men who stay at home and lived to protect their country. I have one still in the military and I don't want him going to fight a war for some rich spoiled president who never had to make a sacrifice.
This old hippy wants everyone to give peace a chance.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The end of a life.

Cold raindrops floated down, moved around by the strong winds from the north. At the end of the over pass a small puddle developed. Worn tires on the vehicle lost enough traction on the wet surface. The world appeared to spin out of control, but only for the driver of the vehicle. The world is clear and steady for everyone else. An impact with something, a dent to the front of the vehicle. Resting on the grassy median the door opens, swift movements. A hurried run into the traffic lanes. Rain falling on his face, cold, wet. Confusion or panic, we'll never know. Rain in his eyes and very low light.

Music playing on the radio. Wipers keeping a full note beat. Cold and rainy outside. Life is good. It's a new place, new people, a fresh start. A vehicle on the side of the road...a figure emerges from it...hurried run onto this lane!
Loud impact, the human face! A fraction of a second and two worlds change forever. One will know no more pain, fear, hunger, thirst....
The other will live with that sound, that sight and that knowledge for every day of their life. They will remember it when they open their eyes every morning, when they close their eyes every night, with every loud noise, every hurried run. Pray for both. Neither one wanted this change.
And we get their....to help? Don't know how. But we are infected with their pain. We see them and we see what they cannot see. We see their pain. Hold their hand, say a prayer for them. These gold shields over our hearts, it will protect them, comfort them; give them some reassurance that all will be better when the sun comes up. That gold shield it is special to them. It is the beacon that will lead them to a tolerable tomorrow.
But we know it isn't special. It isn't even gold....it provides no protection from what we see, what we hear, what we feel. Who will hold our hand? Pray for us...makes us feel that tomorrow will be tolerable.
More raindrops fall. The wind grows stronger. How cold it feels in the inside.......

Monday, March 21, 2005

Through these eyes we see....

What we all see is the same; how we interpret what we see is very different and is influenced by how we feel at that moment. Our eyes will see a bright sunrise and our mood will interpret this as sign of another hot dusty day or as another bright sunny day. Our eyes will see a cloudy rainy day and our mood will interpret this as a wet dreary day or an opportunity to sit and reflect on our life.
That which occurs around us or to us affects our moods. But, we have a big influence on our moods. We can talk ourselves into a dark depressing mood or into a bright cheerful one. A bowl of chocolate ice cream can help change our mood for the better. Going out for a run can do the same, some people will go shopping or call a friend who is cheerful. News on the TV can have the opposite effect, as can thinking about a bad experience from our past. Bad news sells better on TV than good news. Some times we dwell on the thing that darken our mood and then wonder why we are always feeling bad. Of course, being jovial all the time can also irritate the hell out of others. So for today’s mood enhancing homework – Listen to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream and call a friend.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Late at night....

In July 1977 I was living in El Paso at Miner's Hall. One old dorm on the University of El Paso campus. I had arrived there after spending three fruitless weeks in Eagle Pass looking for a job. This was my first venture into west Texas on my own. I was sharing a room with another guy from Eagle Pass. I don't remember his full name, but his first name was Refugio and he was known as Cuco. Our dorm room faced toward IH 10. You could see a huge parking lot and the entrance to the Sun Bowl. The building was not airconditioned so during the day we had the windows open to get a breeze going. We had to keep the doors open too. The dry heat in El Paso made it possible to stay cool as long as you were in the shade. I was amaze at the variety of people who stayed in the dorm. The first floor was used for administrative offices and classrooms. The lobby had one large TV and lots of sofas and chairs. This was used as a gathering place for the students. The second floor were dorm rooms for all male and the third floor was female. Some of us where there with the H.E.M.P. and some were there with the H.E.P.
Ok, some one had to be aware of what word was spelled when you abbreviated Higher Education Migrant Program! The other program was Higher Education Program.
The H.E.M.P. was for high school graduates. They provided you with a summer job at the University so you could enroll for the fall semester. That is how I ended up there. It was up there because I had traveled from Eagle Pass north to El Paso.
The H.E.P. was for high school dropouts who wanted to get their G.E.D. They brought them in from as far away as Alamosa, Colorado. They went to classes during the day and got some spending money every month. I believe they were there for three months and then they could transfer to H.E.M.P. when they got their G.E.D.
That is how Cuco ended up there. He was a nice person and we got along well. He had joined the Army and had been allowed to leave after six months. I never got the full story on how he managed to get them to let him leave.
In getting back to how the world changes every day, I went to the employment office one morning in June and was told about this program that they had in El Paso. I was told to come back later that day and they would give me more information about it. At 03:00 P.M. I was told to go by the bus station and pick up my ticket. The bus left for El Paso at 08:00 P.M.! Yes, my world changed. When the sun greeted the world the next day I saw it from the bus station in El Paso.It is late at night, like now, when these discernable changes come back to mind. What would the world be like if I had not gone to the employment office that day? Would it have followed the same path, just on a different day? What about the people I met getting there? How much did their world change?

Living is easy with eyes closed Posted by Hello

Today was different

Many years ago we got a call on a suspicious person pulling on door in the downtown area. We came upon a transient who was pulling on doors. When asked what he was doing, he said, "This morning I woke up and the world had changed. Everything is different." He was right.
Every day the world changes and we don't notice. We get so hung up on what we have that we don't want to let go and refuse to see the changes. A good example on how quickly things change is the Bamboo. It can grow as much as a foot in one day. A mayfly lives only for 24 hours and then dies. People who woke up yesterday will not wake up tomorrow. The spouse who said they were always faithful and then went for that one night fling can no longer say that and be honest. Your child is with you and then leaves for boot camp. He will never be the same.
When you work nights, the fact of change is more apparent. To walk out of a building and see the sun turning the dark sky into an orange canvas. To see the steam rise from the cool stream. To see the birds move as a single cloud. To know that life has changed for all those who have been sleeping and knowing that some will never know it, but that you do know. You know that with everyone you made contact with that night a change in you occurred.
Tomorrow the world will be different and so will you.