The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Monday, October 31, 2011


Getting ready to provide a Flight Review ... Yeah ... I get to help someone in an airplane and I will get paid for that. I get to fly and I get to get paid. I would do this for free so it's pretty thrilling to get paid. I really liked getting a paycheck ... I have missed the feeling of that over the years. That is the smallest part of this thankful though. I am thankful to have the opportunity to exercise what I worked hard to earn. It feels pretty great.
Ant rolling a single drop of water ... so precious. I didn't take this picture, but I enjoy it very much ... Uncredited.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tumbleweed tiny house company

Under the title is a link to these tiny house plans ... Tiny as in 300 and less square feet. I'm thinking beach cabaña ... Little guest house. Would be great for economical rentals with some shared space. Connected to each other by a central porch with outdoor kitchen and lush landscaping. Would also be great for student housing. Maybe guesthouse/office. I just want to save the site.

Get cape,Wear cape, Fly

Not credited when found on Internet ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Notes on the uses of adversity from THE HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS

Making Molasses Cookies ... I've never baked these before and the freshly ground spices, cinnamon and cloves, smell fabulous. There is ginger in this recipe also, but I used powered ... I wonder how that is made ... I use a lot of fresh ginger root in our meals, but that wouldn't be right for this.
photo seen on PINTEREST site ... unfortunately, it was not credited. I like it.

I'm really liking the book, Happiness Hypothesis. I've just finished the chapter on adversity. Kinda hate to make notes because the author does an awesome job of building a coherent set of "great ideas" which coalesce to tell a story about how humans can find happiness and meaning in life. These great ideas are culled from ... roughly Christianity (Old and New Testament)... Mediterranean Philosphy, the Koran, the writings of Confucius and other Oriental Philosophers, sayings of the Buddha ... etc. ... where an idea was expressed repeatedly within these sources of ancient wisdom, Dr. Haidt identified it as a candidate for a "great idea". Alright, enough background ... Go get the book, it rocks.

When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent. ~ MENG TZU 3rd Cent.BCE

The notion of fate, predestination, kismet, divine foreknowledge is presented and coupled with this ... People need adversity, setbacks, and maybe even trauma to reach the "highest levels of strength, fulfillment, and personal development". Haidt writes, "I don't want to celebrate suffering, prescribe it for everyone, or minimize the moral imperative to reduce it where we can. ... I want only to make the point that suffering is not always all bad for all people. There is usually some good mixed in with the bad, and those who find it have something precious: a key to moral and spiritual development."

Pg 145 ... A mess of mismatched motives and stories (the ones we tell ourselves about our selves) and it may be that only through adversity will one be able to make the radical changes needed to achieve coherence ... . ...mentally healthy and happy people have a higher degree of "vertical coherence" among their goals - that is, higher level/ long term goals, and lower level/ immediate goals fit together well ... So that short term goals support the attainment of long term goals.
Here it is ... Trauma often shatters belief systems and robs people of their sense of meaning ... As we put our pieces back together we may (he says use, I say) find God or some other higher purpose. An opportunity to remake ourselves with all the wonderful "ers". Here's a quote "people sometimes seize such opportunities, too, rebuilding beautifully those parts of their lives and life stories that they could never have torn down voluntarily.

Pg 146 Optimists (me ... and frankly, my very optimistic outlook is sometimes an embarrassment to me ... I know that logically "things" can not always go as well as I reallyreallyreally tend to believe they will) have a high happiness setpoint, they habitually look on the bright side, and they easily find silver linings. ... Because optimists expect their efforts to pay off, they go right to work fixing the problem. But if they fail, they expect that things usually work out for the best, and so they can't help but look for the possible benefits. When they find them, they write a new chapter in their life story, a story of continual overcoming and growth.
Okay so trauma, or maybe how one addresses trauma, helps us live larger, think higher, feel deeper. I think I can agree with that. Every life I have witnessed has "problematic" areas ... In fact, I would even say each relationship presents opportunities for growth. I do say that. I believe that the places and most importantly those people whom we choose to invest our lives in are the life modifiers. Here is something I way underestimated the benefit of ... While the nature of the trauma turned out to be almost irrelevant, talking about it with friends or support groups largely spared the health damaging effects of trauma. !!! That is a small, yet significant pearl. I shared my traumatic story ... it dramatically affected the weight of the load ... I was then able to re-write my story. Thank you friend of my soul.

So, how does one benefit from adversity? May be as easy as 1,2,3.
First, if you tend to be pessimistic, fix that (with meditation, cognitive therapy, and/or Prozac ... making you less subject to negative ruminations ... )
Second, cherish your buddies ... build your social support network.
Third, religious faith and practice can aid growth.

Here's a final tip ... When you catch your breathe on a problem ask yourself
Why did this happen, and what good might be derived from it?

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world. The lives that you admire, the attitudes that seem noble to you, have not been shaped by a paterfamilias or a schoolmaster, they have sprung from very different beginnings, having been influenced by evil or commonplace that prevailed round them. They represent a struggle and a victory.”
~ Marcel Proust

What a great quote ... ! How can victory exist without struggle?

Explicit knowledge = all the facts one collects and can consciously regurgitate independent of context ... filed away, ready for use in later reasoning.
Tacit knowledge = wisdom, knowing how rather then knowing that, it is acquired without direct help from others, and is related to the goals that a person values. and that is exactly what I have been thinking. (btw, for later rabbit chasing ... Robert Sternberg, a leading wisdom researcher) Sternberg says wisdom is the tacit knowledge that let's a person balance two sets of things.
First, balance their own needs, the needs of others and future needs. Wisdom can see from other's POV ... shades of grey ... what's best for the long run. Conversely, ignorance sees things in black and white, relying on the myth of pure evil ... strongly motivated by self interest. He chose the word ignorant ... Why not foolish or stubborn ... Hmmmm ... rigid ... well, I'll think about that later.
Second, wise people are able to balance three responses to situations:
Adaption ... changing the self to fit the environment
Shaping ... changing the environment
Selection ... Choosing to move to a new environment

Sternberg's ideas demonstrate why it is impossible for a parent to be able to teach their children wisdom directly.

29O11 discussing this with L this morning over piping hot pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, and most deliciously, coffee, light and sweet. He says that type of optimism is simply a lack of discernment. I laughed. Yes there areas where the sun just won't shine. I'm remembering the sliver of light illuminating the ground a few days ago. Light radiated through a breach in the overcast. I've seen that many times before ... Suddenly light, golden, pouring itself through, cascading ... and one can almost see Jacob's ladder. The other day we flew on before the hole in the clouds closed rendering darkness again ... and did the people down below pause to find their way in the dim light?

View out our front door

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough." ~Idk
Samson ... In "timeout" for incessant barking. Big dog ... Prodigious WOOF WOOF reverberates off the bricks, rattling windows and nerves. This is a new thing for him. Almost over night he has developed a passion for sharing his deep baritone with any, all, no one in particular. I sssshhhh him. "Samson, No woof woof" I say with furrowed brows. "Saammmmeee... No! Sam, hush! Lay down boy .... Sshhhh! Good boy Sam" and I close the back door and he bounds off the porch for the fence line Woof ...woof woof W O OOO F! my family is complaining. "What is up with Samson? Did you hear your dog barking at the side of the house all morning? That dog is acting weird!". My husband has suggested a shock collar ... It would ping Samson every time he barks. I am not in favor of that. Barking is actually one of Samson's jobs, and if he does it well enough it may be his only job. I think a couple of issues are at play here ... one, the new neighbors have four wiennie dogs who yap continuously, and two, I have missed a week and a half of walks with my dog. I'm sure he is bored silly. He may also be thinking if they can I can. For this morning, he has been in the whoscal, the big house. Poor baby. He does look contrite!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Piper Warrior
SSE bound @5500MSL
Garmin 430
Little grass strip ... from about 2500MSL
It's pretty cool to see the ground from 4500MSL ... gs approx 100kts. This farm land was probably at 500asl. I enjoyed seeing a crack in the overcast (OVC70) lighting up a sliver of ground.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh my gosh ... what a great day. Whoever said one's happiness level is at pretty much the same "line" pretty much all the time ... well, he hasn't been around airplanes. I've been flying a Piper Warrior the last several days. It's little 150hp engine is enough to catapult me to an entirely different happiness level ... . I like the airplane. I have never flown anything that tiny before. Even the light weight engine cowling is endearing. Today I flew it .5 NE of here for a pitot/static check. That was the shop we worked with to tend the Navajo. It was very nice to land over there today. I saw a King Air with both front windows busted out ... Right side had blood and pin feathers all over the place ... Left side was fingerprint size fractured opaque ... No forward through visibility at all. The pilot landed by opening the ... I call it a hand window ... I don't know why ... anyway ... good save peering out the side. I saw the pilots getting ready to meet insurance guy, but they were off to happy hour before I got to hear the tale. Heard left seat was first time in a part 135 operation. Buzzard strike ...

I also boarded the prettiest King Air interior I've ever seen. Even the front two seats were white suede leather. I told the mechanic that I didn't think I would prefer that over just plain ole leather, but it sure was ... nice, very nice. I didn't want to touch anything just in case. Almost lick me lovely ... for those rare moments when smelling just isn't enough. Later met a couple of retired ... Hmmm one was retired, the other active ... anyway, airline pilots. Pilots are generally very amusing company, and these guys were no exception. One guy retired from the Tokoyo route and seemed to be having a fine time building RVs and driving his motorcycle around the field. Other guy was walking back from the tree line when my buddy called out ... he was pretty surprised to see a couple of ladies out in the middle of nowhere ... must be really nice to take a whiz just twenty steps from where your joy ride is hangered. Navy IP just got a CFI ticket and may want to use it some ... he liked the warrior ... . Just back here from AZ and CA ... Welcome home. Life moves slower over here where everything is green or becoming green.

Probably the best thing ... well, I love radial engines. A T28-C was sitting in maintenance. It is ... awe andthen some. Those guys are so big my eye can't quite see them well. What a magnificent airplane. ... Just sitting on the ground they fill my heart. I told the mechanic to call me when he knows it'll be flying ... I just want to sacrifice a few more hearing decibels on it ... He said I could absolutely count on the owner letting me fly it! Hmmmm ... We'll see about that. Apparently he just likes to take other pilots up. I would be very happy just to be near by when they light it up ... Just thinking about watching it do laps makes me feel ... Happy. Very Very Happy.

Last night I read about the difference between romantic love and companionable love. Romantic love is doomed to fizzle ... yeah, probably must be true. The writer, Dr. Haidt, equates it to cocaine or heroin. I don't know anything about illegal drugs ... But I do understand the notion of wild ass euphoria. I don't quite get there with airplanes ... But ... Well, I've never flown a T28-C. I think it might be just splendid. ... Yes, maybe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Communion ... Do this in remembrance of me ...

Butterfly chalices. We sat on her front porch ... talking and watching butterfies gather the last bits of sweet before the first frost. ... Rocking slowly back and forth in the afternoon sun while the smell of firewood wrapped comfort all around ...

... and where I sit at church ... this is "my" window ... this is what I look at while I listen to the preacher ...

These places where I am still ... and in an airplane sometimes, and at the beach always ... These places all feel the same to my soul ... these places where communion gently rocks my soul back and forth ... these are places where my soul senses the presence of God.

Lines in blue

East bound way up high

Loose spring on a screen door ... way down low

Images together remind me of the Old Spiritual ... Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home ...

Traditional lyrics:

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
I looked over Jordan, and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home?
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.
Sometimes I'm up, and sometimes I'm down,
(Coming for to carry me home)
But still my soul feels heavenly bound.
(Coming for to carry me home)
The brightest day that I can say,
(Coming for to carry me home)
When Jesus washed my sins away.
(Coming for to carry me home)
If I get there before you do,
(Coming for to carry me home)
I'll cut a hole and pull you through.
(Coming for to carry me home)
If you get there before I do,
(Coming for to carry me home)
Tell all my friends I'm coming too.
(Coming for to carry me home)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Make a Difference Day

Sixty degrees in the house yesterday morning when I woke up for keeps ... awake enough for the thought of hot coffee to smile my face and peek my toes out from under the fluffy duvet. Coffee steams on chilly mornings ... I like it! I said I would be at the church by seven ... with a thirty foot ladder and my tool pouch of dry wall equipment. Our team was mostly college boys ... they don't own their own tools yet ... they teased me just a little about mine. Our project was supposed to be caulk a couple of leaks caused by nail holes in new tin roof, and mud the sheet rock which was replaced under the old leaky roof ... move the ball forward. Urban Ministries has two or three work days a year ... Mrs. C's house is always on the project list.

I would have never found the place. Tucked way back down a winding dirt road, hidden under the loblolly pines, doubt I could have seen it from the air, unless that new piece of roof caught the sun. I was barely out of the truck when a few friendly dogs came wagging up. They were followed by an arm full of little sparkly-eyed pigtailed festooned chatter boxes ... aka second graders, all girls, cousins. As I later found, Mrs. C's great granddaughters ... and they giggle when she asks them "which one are you?" When they weren't staring at me and asking questions, they spent their day racing one another up and down the road, then back to me bragging about how fast they could run. All the heat in that house comes from an open fire place ... or the gas stove in the kitchen. I'm going to try to describe this little place ... it was poor, but very sweet also ... it didn't feel desperate like I'm afraid the impression left by my description will. Out front was a truckload of uncut wood, two foot sections of trees. A couple of the guys on our team split the whole pile for her, and those little girls stacked it neatly on the porch. I was really surprised by the quanity of wood she had piled up around her place ... I've never seen anything like it ... all kinds of wood, all the way from sections I couldn't wrap my arms around, down to twigs and broken furniture and eventually the rotted out 2X4s that we pulled out from under the ten layers of linoleum which made up her kitchen floor ... the flimsy plywood subfloor was totally splintered through at both entrances to the room.

She had a roll of brand new linoleum out on her backporch waiting for someone to come stretch it out and cut it ... that was what she was hoping for ... a new layer of linoleum in the kitchen ... she called it a "rug".

Back up ... We arrived ... a convoy of three vehicles, in a cloud of early morning dust. I wasn't wearing a watch, but the sun wasn't over the pines yet ... that kind of early. Once we turned off the paved road I saw started seeing trailers ... mobile homes, tucked in here and there. Probably two miles down the road was Mrs. C's place, an old four room shack with a bathroom added on back. A screen porch stretched across the front, and there was also had a back porch as deep as the bathroom addition. Attached to one side was a dirt floored cinder block two car carport which housed a rusted out pickup that seemed to be used for storage, and a brand new washer and an old dryer was out there also. I'm working on cleaning and organizing my garage and was struck by how very dirty a dirt floor is. There were several trailers clustered within the two acres or so that seemed to make up family land. At least two daughters and a son lived in those trailers ... I met them ... and a grandson, father to two of the little girls, lived in the one closest to her home, but I never saw him. So, we pulled off the road, stopped our trucks, and were met by the curiosity of first the dogs then the little girls.
Our group was made up of four college guys, a man about my age who runs a wood yard, and me. The older man said several times during the day that he came up in a place just like this one ... 'cept no bathroom, and the running water came from a hose hooked up to a neighbour's line. I know him fairly well, and two of the four boys, brothers, I've known for pretty much their whole lives ... the other two guys I've seen around ... we all attend church together. I got my first look at the equipment box as we collected in Mrs.C's front yard. I was there specifically to finish sheet rock, but there was no mud in the supply box.
So, up the stairs to meet Mrs.C on her front porch, then inside the house to a room with two double beds, two recliners, a chest of drawers with a TV glowing on top, and the fireplace, open and also glowing. We trailed through the front room into the next room which was pitch dark and just big enough to hold only another double bed and the door way to the kitchen. She lead us through the house to the kitchen and stepped into the bathroom with our team leader to show him where nail holes were causing the roof to leak into her only closet. I stood in the kitchen assessing what I could do with what looked like the sorriest sheet rock work I've ever seen. The sheet rock on the walls had been papered and later painted over, but are now rippled where weather from a hole in the tin roof had left the room exposed. The wall Sheetrock needs to be replaced, but I don't think it's on anyone's to do list. The installation of two new sheets of tin on the roof and one 4'x8' piece of sheet rock attached to the ceiling was the summer project. There were gaps between the ceiling board and the walls ... almost two inch gaps in some places. Pretty soon an Urban Ministries runner showed up with a gallon of wall mud. She also told us that there was a sheet of plywood on the front porch which was intended to be used to repair the floor. We had a bag of nails and a hammer in the project box, but no saw, and the house wasn't wired to accept a three prong plug. I started applying net tape and wall mud along the edges of the sheet that had been hung by the last team. There were places which I couldn't reach because the floor under wasn't strong enough to support the wobbly chair I was standing on. One guy left to acquire a saw and an adapter. One guy went up on the roof with a caulk gun while another guy stood in the closet directing him to the leaks. Two of the guys started splitting fire wood. And the old guy started figuring out how to go about repairing the floor. They wound up shutting off her water and hauling the whole sink cabinet out in to the yard ... the counter top wasn't attached ... it was laid with the sink still in place on the back porch. Behind the sink cabinet there was no sheetrock ... Just exposed two by fours and no insulation. Pulling the floor deck out was pretty easy ... it was mushy wood, rusty nails and powdery dry rot. We didn't have any lumber to work with at all ... cept for some scrapes she had leaning against a tree which were too good for the wood pile. The old guy MacGuyvered a workable plan. While the men removed the damaged floor (and layers of linoleum) I scavenged for useable CMU block pieces left over from the carport addition ... I hammered the mortar off the edges and prayed that the work inside would go well. I can't even describe the mess. Our team leader kept on saying something like safe and weatherproof ... that was the mission plan. They wanted me to tell Mrs.C that laying her new rug was not going to be a possibility for that day. "Tell her I will come back out here during the week, next weekend at the latest, and do it" one of the college guys said, and a couple of others said they'd come back with him. I sat on her front porch with her and explained what was going on to her. I told her I knew she had her heart set on a new floor and honestly, I don't think she understood why just tacking down a new roll of linoleum wasn't all that was needed. I said it would look real pretty until she fell through it and then we might never find her. "Well, beggars can't be chosers" was her philosophical reply. I very gently told her that I didn't want her breaking a leg stepping through that floor. She was disappointed, but so sweet about the whole thing. The truth is ... The back of her house is falling off. I asked her what color she wants her kitchen painted and she said white would be real nice. I smoothed out the wall mud as good as I could. There was no sandpaper and it looks pretty rough streaking down the walls where I closed the crack between wall and ceiling. I don't really know if paint is on anyone's to do list either.
By the end of the day her roof didn't leak, and almost the entire kitchen floor deck had been replaced, and a gallon of wall mud was in place plugging the gap that you could see tin roof through ... and fire wood was split and stacked.

Earlier I said I met her son. He didn't offer to help. He was a well dressed man with a phone in his ear. I also met two of her daughters ... They sat outside their trailers at picnic tables with I guess their husbands ... watching those adorable little girls play and listening to football games. My guys sent me out to ask around for electrical tape once, and later in the day I was looking for a water hose to wash dried mud off my hands ... Mrs. C's water was still off. Not once did anyone offer to help. That really surprised me. The women, I understand why they didn't help ... it's the men who really surprised me. They didn't even get up to turn on the water hose, just barked orders at the grandkids ... and one man gave me a couple of his business cards. He has a paint and pressure washing business.
I came home tired and dirt dirty. My back and neck hurt a bit from balancing on a chair and working with my hands overhead ... up and down more then I'm used to. I was so thankful to walk into my clean house at the end of the day... the floor is strong every single where I step. I filled up the bathtub with hot water, epsom salts and eucalyptus spearmint scented bubble bath and slid under the water remembering that it was a very old black lady who first told me that Epsom salt will drawn the pain right out of you. Mrs. C had a box of salts sitting on the edge of her bath tub. I laid there with my eyes shut thinking about that place ... no more then ten miles from my home ... cept for that box car that I saw people living in when I was a little kid, it's the hardest living conditions I've ever seen with my own eyes. I was thinking about the book, Happiness Hypothesis ... she seemed happy. I sat with her a couple of times during the day, and she was very easy to be with. Her ways are gentle ... she seems to be content. I am troubled to see so many able bodied men living on her land but not offering to help. I just don't get it at all. My husband has given me an article to look at ... "Toxic Charity" is a book written my Dr. Robert Lupton who is the founder of FCS Urban Ministries. I may look at the book. His premise is "well intended services , one way giving, actually harms the dignity of the recipients". He observes that these feel good mission minded experiences are actually counterproductive, and contends that chronic poverty issues deserve a development strategy. This article, in Saturday's Birmingham paper says American's spend as much as $5 billion annually on mission trips and the actual amount of good accomplished is very minimal. I haven't looked at his data, but I suspect we can be more effective.
(cool graphic on a t-shirt that I will never wear ... It's seems so bizarre to me to be given a t-shirt ... like an award or prize. There is always something like a t-shirt given to volunteers ... Might as well say something like I did it! ... I rock!

I don't feel particularly good about my make a difference day. I said I would do it because I sensed that the guy heading it up for my church was having trouble recruiting volunteers. I did it for him. I was happy to help an old lady. She absolutely can not do that for herself and she probably can't afford to pay someone to do that for her. She's probably happiest in her own home ... I think I will be when I'm that old. I don't know what the real difference made was. I'd say all things considered it was a good use of my time, but the real good may have been stuff that I can not see or understand. Maybe it was something for those children. Maybe it was something for me ... I look at all the places where my ceiling meets the walls and I am glad. My floors have never felt so good. I'm grateful. I'm glad that we can work. I'm glad we do. I can't imagine my boys letting people come in and do for me while they sit around. I can't imagine my girls doing that either. There's another thing here that is the truth ... Mrs. C truly believed that another layer of linoleum would fix her problem. The back of her house was falling off and a cosmetic fix was all she really wanted. It's childlike. I really did not sense an entitlement dynamic with her at all.

Well ... I'm going to be thinking about it.

Friday, October 21, 2011



So ... I am back to accessing my strengths as I look at how I want to spend the next several months and years of my life. This quiet year has been good. I feel it winding down though. I feel a need to find what is next. I don't know what it will be, but I am interested to see the next few months as they unfold.
This book I'm reading, and btw ... highly recommend it ... The Happiness Hypothesis Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom Jonathan Haidt. (ummm ... Not sure truth can be "modern" ... but he does get to title his own book!) Chapter Five; The Pursuit of Happiness, encourages the reader to discover their strengths, making the point that ... well here's an excerpt(pg.96 and 97):

"one reason for the widespread philosophical wariness of sensual pleasure is that it gives no lasting benefit. Pleasure feels good in the moment, but sensual memories fade quickly, and the person is no wiser or stronger afterwards. Even worse, pleasure beckons people back for more, away from activities that might be better for them in the long run. But gratifications are different. Gratifications ask more of us; they challenge us and ask us to extend ourselves. Gratifications often come from accomplishing something, learning something, or improving something. When we enter a state of flow, hard work becomes effortless. We want to keep exerting ourselves, honing our skills, using our strengths. Seligman suggests that the key to finding your gratifications is to know your own strengths. One of the big accomplishments of positive psychology has been the development of a catalogue of strengths. You can find out your strengths by taking an online test at"

Tap this post's title to jump to Authentic Happiness ... seems to be a data collection and resource dissemination site hosted by the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. I took the test
... and found that my top five strengths are:

Your First strength
Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you "get it out the door" in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Your Second Strength
Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Your Third Strength
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
You are an honest person, not only by speaking the truth but by living your life in a genuine and authentic way. You are down to earth and without pretense; you are a "real" person.

Your Fourth Strength
Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Fifth Strength
Capacity to love and be loved
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

No surprises there. Those results sound exactly like me ... and they should, they are based on my self-perceptions. I wonder how similar the findings would be if the survey were answered by someone who believes they know me well. ... Anyway, the idea is that it will be most gratifying for me to find a place where these strengths are exercised.

The book ... is excellent. I am reading it slowly as to give myself time to think about what Dr. Haidt is expressing. The writing style is like a running conversation that he is having with a group of friends ... well developed thoughts which he supports in an easy going manner.

Here's an interesting thought from the book ... "Evolution seems to have made us "strategically irrational" at times for our own good, for example, a person who gets angry when cheated, and who will pursue vengeance regardless of the cost, earns a reputation that discourages would be cheaters. A person who pursued vengeance only when the benefits outweighed the costs could be cheated with impunity in many situations." See, it's stuff like that which is so obviously true that makes the book fun to read slowly. I have maybe gotten the whole "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord" thing out of whack. Many of the ideas offered in this book, encourage me to check my modus operandi.

It's Friday ... Things to do to get ready for the weekend. I said I'd go help a local mission type group with a project. They need a sheet rock volunteer. Too funny (because while I rock sheetrock repair, I do not love that dust) ... it will be good for me. I'm concerned that all the leaves on the AT will have changed color and fallen to the ground before we have another Saturday to walk. But I am happy to help someone with something as simple as home repairs. Having where you live better can really make a big difference in ones life. I really like having my broken stuff repaired ... loved up a little.

It's all good.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"We can do no great things - only small things with great love." ~ Mother Teresa

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Why can't somebody give us a list of things  that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks." ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world: all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it....Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world he is the father of modern physics-indeed, of modern science altogether." ~Einstein

"Regulated thought is a seeking. Sometimes a man seeks what he has lost.....Sometimes a man knows a place determinate, within the compass whereof he is to seek; and then his thoughts run over all the parts thereof, in the same manner as one would sweep a room to find a jewel; or as a spaniel ranges the field, till he find a scent; or as a man should run over the alphabet, to start a rhyme." ~Thomas Hobbes   1651

"The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds." ~John Maynard Keyes

"The Art of Thinking is the art of being one's self and this art can only be learned if one is by one's self." ~Ernest Dimnet

"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a single pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." ~Henry David Thoreau

“Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to the tremendous difficulties” ~Charles H. Spurgeon

I was thinking about those questions last night.
The stuff I think about is worth the time spent and may in fact be why I have extra time to think right now.
"Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself." ~ Plato
Saw that last night ... I think Plato had a few great thoughts along the way. I am thinking about things I need to think about. And thinking and feeling about specific things is careful work. It's a good thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What is on my mind ... Litmus questions.


Should it be there? Is it an uninvited guest? Is it life-giving or energy-sucking?
Whatever it is that you have on your mind, is it somehow connected to your heart?  I mean, is it something worth giving your life to? [because that is what you are in fact doing when you give your precious time to something!]
How do you handle the uninvited guests that swarm the sacred sanctuary of your mind?

Copy and paste from A-Mused ... Tap post title to link.


“I remembered one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath. In vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

“That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.”

I sat on a rock to absorb this New Years’s thought. Ah! If only the little butterfly could always flutter before me to show me the way.

Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek, trans. Carl Wildman  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952), 120-21.

Are you trying to rush to process of your own transformation? In other word, are you tempted to believe - living in a world where so much is instant - that you can change in an instant?
Do you try to force change onto others even when they are not ready for it yet?
Do you have the courage to wait  - even when suspended upside-down - allowing for the natural rhythms to unfold ?

This is what I'm talking about ... This wooing thing ... This is almost too perfect seeing this now. I've been thinking about love ... and my jaded view which was the best I could do ... and I've been collecting impressions and experiences and just trying to grasp this idea of love, because I'm almost certain that love feathers the wings of our souls. The love between a man and a woman is supposed to give us a glimpse of some stuff God wants us to see. It's been a long day here ... But this I wanted to note. That whole butterfly thing is such an amazing story. I'm really glad I did my butterfly research this summer ... very cool.


I am thinking about love.

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. ~Mother Teresa

Don't we teach each other about love? And isn't it true that primacy in our relationships here may guide our impressions about God's love?

Right now I have stuff to do, but wanted to jot this down.

Later ... Okay, the deal is I've been reading about this notion of wooing ... As in God wooing his people to Him. Sometimes this wooing seems very tender, other times perhaps wild may be the best description. Wooing is pretty sophisticated stuff. I didn't date enough as a young woman to understand this concept. But I understand it now, at least with my head. The Bible has a lot to say about love, and I'm glad I'm thinking about this. I'm glad I didn't think a lot about it as a younger woman, because I'm pretty sure I would have been seduced by our cultures spin on love. Before I started trying to understand what love really is supposed to be about I was thinking about trust ... here on my blog. I wanted to experience how it might feel to trust ... living on the planet doesn't inspire much about trust. I guess in my family honesty and a good name were bedrock. How many times have I heard my dad stress the importance of trust in relationships. Trust is central. And, I'm thinking maybe it's the only solid foundation for love to be build on. Trust is difficult ... I think the verse Matthew 18:3
And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ... is a lot about trust. I've read many of the commentaries some are sure this is about lack of avarice or hatred ... power lust and worldly ambition ... someone said humility though not otherwise free from sin.

I'm working with what I've got ... I am the mother of five children. Trust is the factory setting. We are born hardwired to trust and our innocence leaves us as we practice deceptions and have betrayals visited upon us. That is what I think. ... As a child ... sure, it's a lot of different things. I think they all hinge on trust. Trusting a God who is unseen. It's not his unseenness that makes trust difficult for me ... I've seen where he has been, the difficulty is in not being able to walk, like the first people did, in the garden ... The difficulty is in bridging the gapping breach caused by original sin. I understand that work was done by Christ and is the hope of our salvation ... A salvation freely offered by grace to us all. I'm just thinking aout how to experience God when the gates to the garden are closed ... I think he invites relationship now. It feels like a process rather then an event.

Wooing ... Delightful. God wooing sinners back to him. Wooing is different from seduction in that wooing has a tenderness ... Wooing seems to me to be about love where seduction seems to be about lust. Love and lust are easily confused. Lust is easy ... love is not.

Well ... I'm working on these ideas. I haven't gotten this all worked out yet, but I have seen a picture of what wooing might look like ... Wooing is about cherishment rather then conquest.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Well, I saw one of my old buds during the field trip ... He's still a kid to me even though he's really not. He flys Citations for a local operator ... helped me out with my HP stuff back in the day. He is not taking good care of himself health wise and I say buddy, I'm gonna talk to you like your momma here for a minute ... his eyebrows went up, like Uh oh! Too funny. Cracks me up. I've known him since he was a CFI with three jobs and a wife ... trying to make ends meet. He gave me my first Kershner book. Man! I hated to see him not looking strong. I know what stress does to you!
He was along chaperoning the field trip too and it was nice to visit. I won't share his business which we kicked around while the kids were corralled on the riverboat ride (they loved it!). He asked me how things went on my side of the fence and I gave him the Reader's Digest version while he sat there shaking his head no. Yes, it is hard to believe. He knows the players though and said seems like these old military guys are either extremely well packaged individuals or real ... well hmmm ... okay ... or really not. I can almost laugh at myself about the job interview ... My buddy sure did when I told him how I answered the question about my view on the one particular person out there. Buddy started shaking his head a bit more vigorously and laughing while saying, "No,no,no ... see, you answer like I do ... but you misinterpreted the question ... what they were really asking is can you play the game!". I said I could definitely respect the position without respecting the man ... but that job would be pretty rough ... everyone's consensus is my work life would be miserable there ... even more so then most of 'em. I am truly okay and somedays even have enough sense to be thankful that I didn't get hired ... I woulda spent a lot of energy just trying to make things right ... . Can't really take a lot of wrong and make right out of it. This is what surprised me ... I almost teared up when I asked him if he thought I'd ever be able to put my instructors certificate to good use. Here ... Where I sit typing this morning ... I feel a lone tear sliding down my cheek and I brush it away before my little girl comes in here ... I hear her looking for me, she wants me to throw the Frisbee with her and Sammy.
That tear answers my question ... Where do I invest like that?. That tear ... And what I do with it.

Buddy says, "Awwww DeAnn ... Of course you will be able to use those certificates!" I tell him the guys around the flight school who I worked with say otherwise...use it or lose it. He asks me when I started believing anything those kids say ... and I look directly at him to see if he believes it ... and he looks directly at me and nods ... he says those kids don't know anything about real life yet. He tells me to FIRC the thing if I have to, that I can use it when we move back to Texas if not before.

I was surprised to see him ... his wife does these field trip things ... his name tag read her name 'cause they were expecting her to help out. But he showed up instead. It's interesting how things work.
And you know what...the best thing about God isn't that He's good.  It's that He's perfect and so is every single way He works His will out in our lives.  Now that's something to be thankful for. ~hg

Friday, October 14, 2011

“Then give it six more. Just keep throwin’ six months at it till it goes away. Stuff like this takes time.”

... “listen to me. Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing and you were in the best possible place in the world for it – in a beautiful place of worship, surrounded by grace. Take this time, every minute of it. Let things work themselves out here ..."
. ~ from Eat,Pray,Love

I've been awake for a couple of hours now ... thinking about what my husband has been saying lately, that I am the friendliest most easy going person he has ever seen. He is glad that I can do social events. I tell him those are easy, because I don't bring the shy me along to those things ... those things aren't about me ... those things are so easy to negotiate because everybody really just wants to talk about themselves at those kind of things ... everybody wants to be impressive. So ... I've been thinking about that. I like to dress up for those events ... that, and the flowers are my favorite parts, and the music ... if it's live. I like to see the helpers at those things ... The people who pour the wine, the people who walk around with the hor d'oeuvres ... they really set mood. And they tell how the whole thing went at the end of the night when coffee is served. I know how things are at my table ... the coffee guys broadcast for the whole room. Well ... I know how to do those type things, but it's my same ole thing ... friendly towards strangers is the easiest thing in the world. Smile, nod, laugh, ask easy follow up questions ... how did y'all meet? Everyone has worked out a witty little story for that ... everyone wants to be shown in their best light at those little events. I've been trying to think of places or events where I invest like that. I can't find them. Stuff like that reminds me of ... hmmmm ... beauty pageants ... love me like me. Except those cows, right? Those cows were oblivious to the whole thing ... walking around pooping as though extra points were to be awarded for that. Maybe cows are smarter then I am crediting them with.
Friendly and easy going ... yeah, probably. So easy when one is not really engaged. I care about different things. That's really what I'm worried about ... detached. I don't want to be detached, but I don't see places where I want to connect very often. Maybe that is just what getting old is about. Yesterday, as I worked, I watched a doc on the trail. I still want to walk that. I am used to having "a passion" now ... I don't feel restless, but I feel that I have room on my shelf for another passion. Something real ... something meaningful. An endeavor. Something that I think is worth the spare moments of my life. I see what I'm reading ... it does have a common thread. I wonder what God is trying to get me ready for.

Well, today ... A hand full of eleven year olds. An outing. I am looking forward to the day. And tonight ... a movie. I'm smiling ... sitting quietly in the dark will likely be just the thing tonight!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


... more about the rose vine, less about the flowers and thorns ...

The Miracles of the Loaves
"Do we not very frequently suffer our memory to let his benefits go? Is not depression of spirit occasioned by the fact that we do not well consider the miracle of the loaves or its counterpart which has taken place in our history? How many times have I sought the Lord in sorest trouble and he has brought me through! What burdens have I carried to him and found them vanish! What wants has he not supplied? What marvels has he not wrought on my behalf? Surely, if I think of what he has done for me I shall not, unless my heart be hardened, permit myself to be afraid. Cannot many of you say the same? Are there not oases in your pilgrimage through the desert which, as you look back upon them, are to your grateful memory very green and full of sunlight, where the Lord revealed himself to you and wrought very mightily for you?"

In March 2011 I wrote this ... She's talking about close relationships ... intimacy. This is what I think ... this thought originated in a place that should just feel but now it thinks first. Intimacy is like an oasis in the dessert ... maybe they exist ... lots of times they turn out to be a mirage ... me? I'm going to carry my own water. That may sound a little bitter here in black and white ... I don't think it is ... I think it is just practical.

What a little grouchy girl ... I wonder how my very close friends even put up with the real me somedays! Intimacy is ... intimate. It seems silly to experience a disappointment, and then dwell on it ... allowing it to mess with you. I wish it were possible to just say to one's self ... bummer ... that was/is a mess, but ... I am able to walk away from that. Some other stuff is coming up, maybe awesome stuff, maybe sucky stuff, but whatever it is, I need to be my best me for what is next. And ... I'm just thinking here, but it seems like the really super duper important stuff that doesn't go acceptably well is really where the problem areas are. How 'bout that Spurgeon quote. Absolutely a great perspective. See, I'm thinking the lesson learned ... Rather then this cynical "booted-up" tough game face that I'm saying is just practical ... . It would be a lot effective to remember his benefits ... marvels wrought. And I really liked that video by Louie Giglio about the immensity of God's creation as we know it in relation to where I fit in his grand plan. I can see the wisp of smoke which is my life and I think "isn't the real miracle that I think I can sense God's presence ... ever". And so we bless those moments when we feel him nearer ... that song ... Momma asked me to sing at my Granny's funeral. I didn't want to, but I did it ... and my brother reached over and held my hand tight to help me through it. God shows up. He shows up because he is never ever even a breathe away. I'm reading Elie Wiesel now and I'm thinking about a quote where someone asks where is God (during a horrible moment in the camp) and someone answers ... He is right here.

when I am weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name.
“Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker,
hold on to my hand,” and You say “I am.”

The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around
us so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer
Life had begun, I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne, who can say when,
But they’ll dance again, when I am free and finally headed home

Tap post title to jump to you tube video of Nichole Nordeman' I Am

The miracle of the loaves. I've thought about this a lot lately. I am the little one with not much to offer ... Why would I think my meager understanding or supplies or whatever ... carry my own water!?! Wow ... that's some serious whininess going on there. I am sorry I thought that much less said it out loud! This weather is reminding me of how ephemeral perspectives are. I like it that God says he doesn't change. The great I Am.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Between layers

On top ... Good day sunshine

This morning I woke up to another grey day ... Thought to round up a few ingredients for soup. Nothing smells better then soup bubbling on the stove top on dreary days like today. When I finish this note, I'm going to bake an apple pie ... There are a few pillsbury pie crusts in the frig flirting with an over abundance of Fuji apples ... My family will be so pleasantly surprised, because until today, I do not believe I've baked a pie on a whim.

Below is an excerpt from a letter sent back to a hmmm ... friend at a distance? She sent a very special picture she had taken of a flower and so sweetly ... gracefully ... offered a couple of suggestions on how to get a really nice picture of a flower. That got me to thinking about what Two said about creating a little book for our family from this blog ... Something to remember me by later when I'm flight testing some wings in heaven (ummm ... Wouldn't that rock!). I just write here like I'm the only one who will ever read this. And the pictures I post are specifically to remind me of something ... later. Like the rose pictured yesterday. Below is the story that picture recalls to me. And there are other pictures like that here which probably won't make much sense to anyone else ... but do to me. ... Like that cow, and the whole outing to the fair. I really do not like cows. As a child I was afraid of them, and memories of that combine with my lack of exposure to anything bovine that doesn't come directly off the grill. That cow ... The one I took a picture of ... was a beautiful cow, but ... her nose was heavily glazed in snot and her eyes were heavily glazed in where am I? I haven't reformed. I still do not like cows ... ummm, they even pooped everywhere while they were being shown ... cows don't seem to get it. Here's the back story to the "posted in haste" photo set.
I wanted to go to the fair, and my husband surprised me by obliging. When we got there, no one was in the exhibit barn. I expected something like scenes from Babe or Charolette's Web, but there wasnt anything going on ... just a trail of blue ribbons. There weren't many second place ribbons and there weren't any third place ribbons, 'cause ... only one entry per category came to the County Fair this year. The carnival ... lots of pretty lights ... high school kids were out in mass and I enjoyed seeing them on the rides, but I also saw the carnival workers ... moving from one town to the next pulling their homes and a tilt-a-whirl. I am thankful for a roof over our heads that doesn't move. This carnival crew looked sad ... and bored ... with cigarettes dangling from their lips as they called out ... inviting people, passing by to throw a dart at a balloon positioned a mere three feet away ... win your prize. Everybody seems to be a winner at the fair. The cow judging was far and away my favourite, and I did truly enjoy the idea that kids raise these animals ... tending to them, being built by the responsibility of caring for an animal. I love that. I loved seeing the new Wranglers and snap up western shirts chosen especially for this big event. The cows fur looked really nice. They were good cows. What I didn't say, was in the next arena over, a different kind of beauty pageant was taking place ... The judging of four year olds in makeup and hairspray. I couldn't watch. I saw a very obese mother dragging her little girl across the dirt floor up towards the stage, and I knew I'd seen more then enough. So ... The corn dog rocked! The proud faces of those young cowboys and cowgirls ... precious ... apparently, I haven't missed a lot missing the county fairs, but I do want to find a bigger one to look at ... and that ferris wheel ... I'm saving myself for a really good one, and I know they are out there!

What I write here, or picture here, usually makes a lot of sense to me. I can't imagine what it might look like to visitors wandering in. It sure was sweet of my buddy at a distance to send a beautiful picture and kind words.

That flower ... The rose vine is on my front porch outlining the overhanging roof.  I planted it there after a few misplacements and it has really thrived.  Sometimes I write about it on my blog ... as a metaphor for other things.  I guess I imagine it somewhat like my life, with some beautiful fragrant bits, some piercingly painful bits ... valiantly trying to thrive and offer shelter to some less able.  You shoulda seen the bird nests there this summer!  It was such a delight to me to watch them all the way through the process.  That picture on the blog shows the sky in the background because it was drearily overcast, with gusting winds ... light rain coats the petals ... And still, it has the strength and audacity to open.  I love that!  One of the very special things about flying is to take off on a day like that (this one too!) where everything is sloshy and grey ... for a while you can't see anything outside the aircraft, it's like being suspended inside an eggshell (that's what I always think out!).  The pilot knows where the cloud tops are, and about how long they will be climbing through.  *, I love to fly in and through the clouds!  Anyway ... When you break out ... Sudden blue!  And the sun is shining!  It's the prettiest sight!  It looks like joy!  I always think of that when things in "real life" seem overwhelming, bleak.  What I can see from here is not the whole picture ... there is joy just barely beyond the veil ... Just because I can't see it doesn't make it's presence less real or true.  It's sort of a picture of faith for me. Some of the photos on * show a very dense layer of clouds below the Captain's airplane and even some with towering monsterous cumulonimbus storm clouds ... Just imagine what it looks like on the ground ... not so pretty as it is up there!  It is generous of him to share those sights as he does.
 ... So, that rose ... when I took that picture, it was for a reminder ... The rose there is looking through the muck to what is just beyond ... and receiving substance from the rain, just as necessary as the sunshine that will be back after this front moves through.  I love your weather station watching!  The planet is so cool, isn't it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This one will most likely be the last Rose of this season ... 'Til Spring ... .

-RA here this morning

basic elements for decorating this chest for fall ... Now for some branches from outside and some other as yet undetermined ... Thankful ... Fall type things. If someone local would get their burlap restocked, I would recover a lampshade for this chest top!
Today feels almost exactly like yesterday felt.

This morning's mail reminded me of a commitment to chaperone sixth graders on a trip to the civil rights museum and on a riverboat cruise where we will have lunch. Some of the kids around here never leave the area except on school sponsored trips ... some of these guys will be afraid of a boat ride. The teacher is putting my little group of six or seven together. I'll read up a bit on civil rights on Thursday ... Looking forward to this day with my little bunch of strangers. I'm actually thinking about putting my name in the hat as a substitute teacher ... Perfect little one day at a time commitments.

Also thinking about possibilities for our turn at providing dinner for one of CCs groups ... Looking for my African Safari cookbook which better not be on a shelf in Texas! It is very odd for one of my cookbooks to not be with it's buddies ... This cookbook was developed by an English chef and has a ton of wonderful dishes which are prepared and served to safari groups. One idea that I particularly like is to shish kabob on rosemary skewers ... Pretty and delicious. I'm thinking of foods which are just a little different. That's what she wants.

On tap tonight is a dress up cocktail/dinner party for husband's endeavours. I'm looking forward to that ... Doing nails between typing here this morning (no glitter tips for this ... lol)... and trying to polish some fragile silver earrings. With the drizzly weather, I'm probably going to wear my hair up. Fun. This polish is called So Ft. Worth It and I like it for this time of year ... When I lick my nails to see if they are truly dry (yes that is exactly how to check ... any hint of nail polish taste and they are not dry ... but your polish isn't smudged ... just one of those little genius things we girls discuss as we leave for the powder room in pairs) ...yes, truly dry, I felt little gritty bits. There is a blush of luminosity under the silvery moonlight shade ... little shimmers ... It'll take two top coats to smooth that out. Good thing I started on the nails first thing this morning.

I can hear the wind whistling through the trees ... and a train is rolling through town right now ... and drips are dropping almost silently. What a great morning. Yesterday I read a big portion of The Goaland created test questions for part of a midterm for one of my husband's classes. I like the book. I remembered that I took it with me to Atlanta about this time last year ... just in case I had a moment to unwind with something non aviation related. I didn't. I looked at my favorite blog to relax while soaking in hot scented epsom salt bubbles ... and I studied for the CFI check ride. What a wonderful fun time that was ... great memories. Today, I have time to read some in The Happiness Hypothesis ... Barely begun, already know it's an awesome well thought out book ... Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. Really enjoying it. My copy of Anam Čara came. I like the book quite a bit, but it's also a little mystical (unsettling). Haidt (Happiness Hypothesis guy) writes a book well within my comfort zone, been citing quotes by people I am familiar with. There are so many interesting things to read out there. I like quiet laid-back mornings like this one. Am also playing words with friends via the iPhone with One. ...Huge prank. He will love this once he finds out ... His sisters tell me that he cheats on this game, as in he has an app which gives him the highest point word for the letters he has available and the playing board as it is. Ummm ... tricky. Cheating? IDK ... When we discuss this he will readily admit to using all available resources. Within this specific context, he knows that I will not perceive that as cheating ... wily perhaps. What he doesn't know is I looked up a lexicon word finder of my own for this little game ... now our forth or fifth ... The one I am using is kicking the butt of the one he is using. I am laughing ... well, I practically wake up laughing. Occasionally, he will text a challenge asking,what does that word mean ... Hahaha ... if I don't already know the word, I look it up before I play it. The longer this goes on, the funnier it gets. His eyes are going to sparkle when he finds out he was played at his own game!

Well, that's enough silliness for one day. Surely there is something productive waiting to be done ... .

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Other then the occasional batch of delicious cookies, I really don't bake. Yes, I have carefully combined ingredients for a few pies and cakes over the years, following the recipe precisely, just hoping for okay results ... well, I love to cook ... bake, not so much. Today, V and I worked together on a box cake, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, also bought ready to go. We did every little step exactly per the instructions. Once the two 9" pans came out of the oven my job was over ... she loves to decorate cakes. Then, she needed my help because one cake was stuck to the pan. I really botched it. The cake came out with probably a third still stuck, and structurally it was severly compromised. I suggested chucks of cake be scooped in to pretty glass bowls and icing piped between layers. Maybe bury the whole mess under a blanket of candied pecans. No. She was adamantly no go on that idea. She figured out how to spatula up large enough pieces to create some semblance of a bottom layer. Once we had it on the cake platter she cut me loose. I was absolutely amazed when I saw her finished cake. It looked really great. Not lopsided or cratered ... really just kinda perfect.
After lunch I offered to serve dessert, and remembered last week at a women's salad/dessert fellowship someone asked me if I know how to properly cut a cake. And yes, of course I do. My momma would be appalled to hear that I was quizzed on such a basic life skill (was also tested on how to place silverware... never mind that we were using plastic! ... if it weren't actually in the church house I probably woulda said I know how to do all kinds of shit that would amaze you ladies, but where I come from we don't make a game of minding other's manners ... yes, I should be in church every time the doors open ... ). All three of my daughters were at the table when I casually said, "This is how my momma taught me to slice and serve cake ... ". All eyes on the lovely old silver cake server. ... And with the first slice the cake collapsed on the platter and I started laughing (remembering the conversation up at the church ... pride does seem to come before the fall!) You have never seen such a sticky delicious mess ... Two tubs of frosting were under girding the cake glops. I cut in to the worst of it. C was narrating my procedure as though for an audience at iron chef ... too funny, and stage whispering "Ummm, Mom, I don't believe the use of a fork to assist the serving piece is actually proper cake etiquette". There were cake pieces and plops of cream cheese frosting a-l-l over the dessert plates and the table. I had to stop to wipe the laughter out of my eyes several times, but finally everyone was served. And ... it tasted just fine.
Seven Habits summarized:

1. Take responsibility for your choices and their consequences.
2. Envision "the" ideal version of how you want things to be ... your relationships, your accomplishments, your environment, etc. ...value what you value...
3. First things come first as you spend your time on goals, roles and relationships.
4. Think win/win. Abundance ...
5. Seek to understand first ... Empathetic listening ...
6. Cooperate ... Positive teamwork ... Supportive leadership
7. Maintain balance in your life ... Upward/outward spiral

New one ...
8."Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs..." also Dr.Covey

Dr Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) a paper on the MORAL COMPASS:

Moral Compassing

When managing in the wilderness of the changing times, a map is of limited worth. What's needed is a moral compass. When I was in New York recently, I witnessed a mugging skillfully executed by a street gang. I'm sure that the members of this gang have their street maps, their common values - the highest value being, don't fink or squeal on each other, be true and loyal to each other-but this value, as it's interpreted and practiced by this gang, does not represent "true north" - the magnetic principle of respect for people and property. They lacked an internal moral compass. Principles are like a compass. A compass has a true north that is objective and external, that reflects natural laws or principles, as opposed to values which are subjective and internal. Because the compass represents the eternal verities of life, we must develop our value system with deep respect for "true north" principles.

As Cecil B. deMille said about the principles in his movie, The Ten Commandments, "It is impossible for us to break the law. We can only break ourselves against the law."

Principles are proven, enduring guidelines for human conduct. Certain principles govern human effectiveness. The six major world religions all teach the same basic core beliefs - such principles as "you reap what you sow" and "actions are more important than words." I find global consensus around what "true north" principles are. These are not difficult to detect. They are objective, basic, unarguable: "You can't have trust without being trustworthy" and "You can't talk yourself out of a problem you behave yourself into."

There is little disagreement in what the constitutional principles of a company should be when enough people get together. I find a universal belief in: fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service, and patience.

Consider the absurdity of trying to live a life or run a business based on the opposites. I doubt that anyone would seriously consider unfairness, deceit, baseness, uselessness, mediocrity, or degradation to be a solid foundation for lasting happiness and success.

People may argue about how these principles are to be defined, interpreted and applied in real-life situations, but they generally agree about their intrinsic merit. They may not live in total harmony with them, but they believe in them. And, they want to be managed by them. They want to be evaluated by "laws" in the social and economic dimensions that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguable, as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.

In any serious study of history - be it national or corporate - the reality and verity of such principles become obvious. These principles surface time and again, and the degree to which people in a society recognize and live in harmony with them moves them toward either survival and stability or disintegration and destruction.

In a talk show interview, I was once asked if Hitler was principal-centered. "No," I said, "but he was value-driven. One of his governing values was to unify Germany. But he violated compass principles and suffered the natural consequences. And the consequences were momentous - the dislocation of the entire world for years."

In dealing with self-evident, natural laws, we can choose either to manage in harmony with them or to challenge them by working some other way. Just as the laws are fixed, so too are the consequences. In my seminars, I ask audiences, "When you think of your personal values, how do you think?" Typically, people focus on what they want. I then ask them, "When you think of principles, how do you think?" They are more oriented toward objective law - listening to conscious, tapping into eternal verities. Principles are not values. The German Nazis, like the street gang members, shared values, but these violated basic principles.

Values are maps. Principles are territories. And the maps are not the territories; they are only subjective attempts to describe or represent the territory. The more closely our maps are aligned with correct principles - with the realties of the territory, with things as they are - the more accurate and useful they will be. Correct maps will impact our effectiveness far more than our efforts to change attitudes and behaviors. However, when the territory is constantly changing, when the markets are constantly shifting, any map is soon obsolete.

A Compass for the Times:
In today's world, what's needed is a compass. A compass consists of a magnetic needle swinging freely and pointing to magnetic north. It's also a mariner's instrument for directing or ascertaining the course of ships at sea as well as an instrument for drawing circles and taking measurements. The word compass may also refer to the reach, extent, limit or boundary of a space or time; a course, circuit or range; an intent, purpose or design; an understanding or comprehension. All of these connotations enrich the meaning of the metaphor.

Why is a compass better than a map in today's business world? I see several compelling reasons why the compass is so invaluable to corporate leaders:  The compass orients people to the coordinates and indicates a course or direction even in forests, deserts, seas and open, unsettled terrain. As the territory changes, the map becomes obsolete; in times of rapid change, a map may be dated and inaccurate by the time it's printed. Inaccurate maps are a frustration for people who are trying to find their way or navigate territory.

Many executives are pioneering, managing in uncharted waters or wilderness, and no existing map accurately describes the territory. To get anywhere very fast, we need refined processes and clear channels of production and distribution (freeways), and to find or create freeways in the map provides description, but the compass provides more vision and direction.

An accurate map is a good management tool, but a compass is a leadership and an empowerment tool. People who have been using maps for many years to find their way and maintain a sense of perspective and direction should realize that their maps may be useless in the current maze and wilderness of management. My recommendation is that you exchange your map for a compass and train yourself and your people how to navigate by a compass calibrated to a set of fixed, true north principles and natural laws.

Strategic Orientation:
Map vs. compass orientation is an important strategic issue, as reflected in the statement by Mr. Matsushitu, president of the Japan's giant consumer electronic company: "We are going to win and the industrial West is going to lose because the reasons for your failure are within yourselves: for you, the essence of management is to get the ideas out of the heads of the bosses into the hands of labor." The important thing here is the stated reason for our "failure." We are locked into certain mindsets or paradigms, locked into management by maps, locked into an old model of leadership where the experts at the top decide the objectives, methods, and means.

This old strategic planning model is obsolete. It's a road map. It calls for people at the top to exercise their experience, expertise, wisdom and judgment and set 10-year strategic plans - only to find that the plans are worthless within 18 months. In the new environment, with speed to market timetables of 18 months instead of five years, plans become obsolete fast.

Peter Drucker has said: "Plans are worthless, but planning is invaluable." And if our planning is centered on an overall purpose or vision and on a commitment to a set of principles, then the people who are closest to the action in the wilderness can use that compass and their own expertise and judgment to make decisions and take actions. In effect, each person may have his or her own compass; each may be empowered to decide objectives and make plans that reflect the realities of the new market.

Principles are not practices. Practices are specific activities or actions that work in one circumstance but not necessarily in another. If you manage by practices and lead by policies, your people don't have to be the experts; they don't have to exercise judgment, because all of the judgment and wisdom is provided them in the form of rules and regulations.

If you focus on principles, you empower everyone who understands those principles to act without constant monitoring, evaluating, correcting or controlling. Principles have universal application. And when these are internalized into habits, they empower people to create a wide variety of practices to deal with different situation.

Leading by principles, as opposed to practices, requires a different kind of training, perhaps even more training, but the payoff is more expertise, creativity, and shared responsibility at all levels of the organization.

If you train people in the practices of customer service, you will get a degree of customer service, but the service will break down whenever customers present a special case or problem because in doing so they short-circuit the Standard Operating Procedure system.

Before people will consistently act on the principle of customer service, they need to adopt a new mindset. In most cases, they need to be trained - using cases, role plays, simulations and some on-the-job coaching - to be sure they understand the principle and how it is applied on the job.

With the Compass, We Can Win:
"A compass in every pocket" is better than "a chicken in every pot" or a car in every garage.

The president of a major corporation recently asked me to meet with him and his management team. He said that they were all too concerned with reserving their own management style. He said that the corporate mission statement had no impact on their style. These executives felt that the mission was for the people "out there" who were subject to the law, but that they were above the law. The idea of moral compassing is unsettling to people who think they are above the law. Because the constitution, based on principles, is the law - it governs everybody, including the president. It places responsibility on individuals to examine their lives and determine if they are willing to live by it.

All Are Accountable to the Laws and Principles:
I'm familiar with several poignant examples of major U.S. corporations telling their consultants, "We can't continue to do market feasibility studies and strategic studies independent of our culture and people." These executives understand what Michael Porter has said: "A implementation with B strategy is better than A strategy with B implementation.

We must deal with people/culture issues to improve the implementation of strategy and to achieve corporate integrity. We must be willing to go through a constitutional convention, if not a revolutionary war, to get the issues out on the table, deal with them, and get deep buy-in on the decisions. That won't happen without some blood, sweat, and tears.

Ultimately, the successful implementation of any strategy hinges on the integrity people have to the governing principles and on their ability to apply those principles in any situation using their own moral compass.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bucket list item

Find out all about this ... and try to see it with my own eyes.

Galápagos Islands and Kenya ... Hmmm around the same lat.


48 I am having my way with that messy garage ... Even just driving up the driveway and knowing the garage is getting better organized makes me feel very happy. Tidy = good.


47 this week I visited my first county fair. And I loved it.
the livestock judging was my surprise favorite event of the evening ... the corn dog on a stick so hot it burned my fingers ... with plain ole mustard ... Gave the cows a run for their money, but the cows won ... snotty noses and all.
lotsa blue ribbons!
I've never ridden a ferris wheel ... really thought this would be the one, but in the end, it just didn't pass the sniff test ... . I want the first ride to be in a open one not those little cages. Bucket list item!

Pine Hill Lantern tour

First Friday night in a long time that we haven't seen a movie. Instead, we went to a cemetery and casually strolled the grounds by candlelight with a bunch of other people. Ummm, sorta weird. I've never been in a cemetery at night. This is an actual event here in town, put on by the historical society. There were period characters who stood on the graves of past denizens of society and told vignettes of their lives ... It was actually kinda cool. Candle lanterns lined the path and a breeze was blowing under a bright Southern sky. It was very interesting to see our town from a historical perspective. It was a three hour walk around six acres of a cemetery I have driven by without a passing thought for the last twenty years. I can see how it would be very nice to grow up and spend ones life rooted to a place. Many of the actors were fifth and sixth generation in the direct line from the person they were speaking for.
We bought a home owned previously by one of the founding families ... not a historical home, just one that one built by a son of a founder. They keep up with things like that around here ... I just liked the very old brick which was re-used when this house was built, the wood floors throughout, and one of the prettiest yard I had ever seen. We're in a part of town were every little blow knocks the power out for a few hours, but it's worth it to me to live under the trees. We were the young family in this old neighborhood, and those very old women really were gracious towards me even though I didn't understand why DAR was such a big whoop. One of my neighbors swears that a particular piece of furniture in her home came over with the family on the MayFlower ... Surely she meant Mayflower moving company ... Everybody plays along, they've got their own big whoopers! One lady spent thirty minutes detailing the family history behind a silver goblet set which she was serving mint juleps in ... Her husband returned to the room and answered my compliment on the silver by flatly stating they had purchased it at an estate sale just last week and the Mrs. planned this little party around mint juleps. She had just finished schooling me on how to hold the cup ... And showing me the wear marks inside her grandpa's particular favorite sippers. I laughed out loud ... too funny. Now I see how important it was to her and I know I woulda jokingly scolded him for being such a kidder. I do not like bourbon. Scotch, definitely. Bourbon ... Bleah!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow Your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. All else is secondary." ~ Steve Jobs