Archive for the ‘mid life’ Category

The Basin Improvement Committee of 1890: it sounds like an exciting group to be a part of, don’t you think? Nestled on the heart of Main Street in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this marker commemorates the intentional efforts of a small group to make things better and to improve life within the community.

If asked, I would likely say that a basin is a small container of water. According to Dictionary.com, it is that, and more…

1. a circular container with a greater width than depth, becoming smaller toward the bottom, used chiefly to hold water or other liquid, especially for washing.
2. any container of similar shape, as the pan of a balance.
3. the quantity held by such a container: We need another basin of water to dilute the mixture.
4. a natural or artificial hollow place containing water.
5. a partially enclosed, sheltered area along a shore, often partly man-made or dredged to a greater depth, where boats may be moored: a yacht basin.

I must admit, definition number 5 is my favorite. You see, I have a basin of my own, and the improvement committee has been meeting the past two days to make it even stronger. “A partially enclosed, sheltered area along a shore, often partly man-made or dredged to a greater depth…“: it’s called marriage, and yes, it is only partly man made.


To coin a phrase, I might say “those who go away together stay close”. Little Frau and I first visited Eureka Springs in the Summer of 1991. Yes, for those of you young ‘ens keeping score at home, it was indeed last century. The Frau and I had been married all of about two years, maybe a little less. We were young. We were in love. We were broke. Truth be told, we weren’t really broke, we just didn’t have much money to spend, so everything was carefully allocated to make sure we could do the trip and make it home.

The pinnacle of the trip was supposed to be a day at Silver Dollar City in Branson. Like I said, we were young, and traipsing around an amusement park in the heat seemed like the be all and end all of a good time. As we almost ran toward the ticket booth together, hand in hand, a man called out to me. It seems that he and his bride of 20+ years had gone to Silver Dollar City on their honeymoon, and returned each year as season pass holders. With the purchase of their season passes came one pair of single day tickets each year, and each year on their anniversary day visit, they would seek out a young couple to take in with them for free.

Almost in shock (remember, I was the ripe old age of 24), I asked the man if we could repay them, buy them lunch, or something else. His answer? “Do something nice for your wife with the money, and that will be just what I wanted“. We thought about that couple and their request all day. We looked at kitschy souvenirs. We thought about going to a show. Ultimately, we decided to use the money to spend a night in a Bed and Breakfast here in Eureka.

It’s not that spending a week sleeping on the ground in a $19.99 pup tent from Wal Mart isn’t romantic, but we were beginning to feel the trip growing on us. An indoor shower, air conditioner, and a bed turned out to be a pretty nice break in the trip.

A few years have come and gone since that trip. Life and kids have placed a few demands on the days and the dollars. Little Frau and I don’t get away as much anymore, at least for just the two of us. But, courtesy of kids at camp and a mid week July 4th calendar, the stars aligned for a brief 2 day excursion back to Eureka. We were not so adventurous as to desire a day in the amusement park this go round. It seems this Basin Improvement Committee of two finds catching up with old friends, casual dining, a small bit of kitschy souvenir shopping, reading, and napping more the order of the day. And it has all happened at a little Bed and Breakfast just a few doors down and 21 years removed from the last Eureka meeting of our little group.

I think we may not wait so long to reconvene the next time…



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“This city is going on a diet”. Such were the words of OKC’s mayor a few short years ago, and while I feel like I am in better shape this year than most of those I’ve lived, maybe I need to take his advice.

First, some brief history. When it was first concocted, Dr Pepper advertising touted it’s health benefits. “Drink a Meal” and “enjoy it at 10, 2, and 4” were it’s tag lines.

In my younger days, I took them at their word. I drank about 3 DP’s a day, and it showed in my girth. I topped out slightly above 200, but it carried more like a fluffy 250.

Fast forward to 2011. The times, they are a changin’, and so is Mr Metabolism. While the contribution from better leg muscles is certainly a factor and Mr Fluffy is hiding out, I did not like what I saw from the fitness room scales this morning. 200 has come and gone, yet again.


So, what to do, what to do? I have not drunk Dr Pepper in years, but I still enjoy the occasional Coke while perusing “The Facebook”. I strayed away from a new mid life friend, “Mr Treadmill”.


I need to get back on the wagon. I need to read more, as well. Fewer carbs, fewer Cokes, and more Chaucer? Well, maybe not that kind of reading, but I have a stack of good books calling for attention.

So, in the spirit of Dr Pepper’s touted positive benefits, I’m contemplating a 10-2-4 diet. 10 pounds, and 2 to 4 books, hopefully in the same time frame, preferably before 2012 comes and it all comes to an end…

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Coffee as an analogy for life? Some would suggest that coffee is life, and I would concur at times. For certain, life often begins each day after a first cup, but today I wish to ponder it before I drink it.

As I prepared the first “nectar of life” carafe of the day yesterday, I considered the description: “House Blend. Lively. Balanced. Intensity: Medium”.

What better way to describe my desired persona in the Bing Dynasty? Having lived at times like some other less desirable coffees, strong, bitter, heavy after taste, I prefer to be the “House Blend”.

Another desirable analogy is fruit: nourishing, refreshing, appealing, “juicy”, and at it’s heart, a seed ready for planting.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

Certainly, if not coffee, I’d rather be compared to fruit vs. a fruitcake, but I digress.

If you will excuse me now, I need to go brew up a pot of the magic elixir. It’s about time for life to begin on a hot Saturday in Oklahoma…

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You smell eternal. You smell for eternity. Two similar phrases, but much different connotations. It’s all in the twist of the words.

Reaching the mid point, and quite possibly beyond, in life’s great timeline has come with a myriad of personal realizations. One of those realizations deals with aromas. I don’t necessarily always smell “the best”.

“That’s not saying much, oh Socrates of the social media realm”, you may say to me. And remember, they sentenced the big S to death for his teachings. “But Socrates, hemlock is poisonous…”, but I digress.

The scented reality comes down to this simple point: How do you come across to others? I had a co-worker begin a meeting in his office recently by asking me if I had just come from visiting the nearby retirement center. He was serious; he smelled “old” in the water. I, too, upon venturing into my closet in recent times have wondered where the octogenarian might be hiding out. It’s a far cry from, and much less acidic than, this space’s aforementioned “teen spirit” that is often present on number one son.

So, what to do? Two of the ladies in my life, Little Frau and Littler Frauline, recently addressed the issue on Fathers Day. They know how they want me to smell for the next few years of eternity. They want me to smell “Eternal”.

Eau de cologne is a delicate thing to put to use. Apply too little, and and it probably is only a nice gesture. Apply too much, and the eyes begin to water on your Facebook friends all the way out on the Left Coast. It is all in the wrist. I last had “cologne”, Polo, to be specific, as a college student. It, too, was a gift from a frauline, but I don’t think old age was the concern. My dad once “borrowed” some of it when he was about the age I am today, but he took the after shave approach to the application. He, his suit, and his car smelled like a “come on too strong” TV commercial for what seemed like a week.

“So where is the always forthcoming analogous application, oh scented Socrates?”, you might say at this point, and you would be spot on in your assessment of this verbal jaunt.

The unscented reality comes down to this simple point: How do you come across to others? And, I don’t mean the presence thru the nostrils. What kind of persona, experience, and “life aroma” do you and I give off when in the presence of others? What “life aroma” do we sense in ourselves in our “closet moments”? Is it old? Is it youthful and acidic? Is it treated, but too heavy and full of suggestion?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says: But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

The NLT equivalent, vs the NIV, says “Christ like fragrance“, and “life giving perfume“. Sounds much nicer than “an aroma that brings death”. So, how do we get there?

To quote a Stamps Baxter song of old “Precious Jesus, hold my hand”. It’s all in the wrist.

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Last July, I listened to Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” while on our road trip to the Grand Canyon and Colorado. Kudos and thanks go to Little Frau for buying me that membership to Audible a couple of years ago. It has been one of two or three major life habit changing events over that time frame.

I began to listen to Miller’s book for a second time as we hit the road on Saturday for another trip, this time southward to elevations much closer to sea level. Correction, make that, at sea level!

The book has prompted me to “tell a better story”, and is prompting me to work on “living better stories”. I’m bookmarking some of my favorite quotes, and home to take some beach balcony time later in the week to share them here. In the interim, here are just a couple to chew on:

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, it’s like that with life. People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like to work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

“And that’s the thing you realize when you organize your life into the structure of story. You get a taste for one story and then another, and then another, and the stories will build until your living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And when you live a good story, you get a taste for kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through to its end.”



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1984: it was a book by author George Orwell, and as the 70’s raced toward the 80’s, everyone speculated on what the real 1984 would be like. And it was a book about an all seeing character called “Big Brother”, and BB was not a very nice person, apparently.

So what did actually happen in the real 1984? Please allow me to tell you. I was introduced to new friends. And then, they made me eat Quiche. (imagine Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow cadence and inflection here).

“Real men don’t eat quiche”. I had always heard that, and yet, I did not know what the stuff really was all about. Enter new friends/mentors Scot, Ted, and Bev. Three guys (including yours truly), a girl, and brunch at a “quiche place”. I will grant, it may be a stretch to have considered Ted and Bev as full fledged friends in 84 (as I hardly saw them again for almost 20 years), but time would tend to that, among other things.

Scot was my dad. He still is, in a manner of speaking. 1984: good “kid”, good mentor. 2011: good man, good mentor. Scot, 22 and free, adopted me as his 18 year old college kid at MRCC. A little laundry, a little football, and a little food was shared over the next year or two until Scot moved away.

But one instance, one moment of interaction, sticks in my brain, and that is sharing quiche with these three, Newly minted young adults and college grads, making their way as I tried to find mine in those first few weeks away from home.

As we drove back from the restaurant that day, I could not help but sit in awe in Scot’s shiny new blue 84 TBird. Here I was in the presence of people who I thought “had arrived”. A newly married couple, a couple of employed accountants, and all the “trappings” of those “not burdened by life or college”. As we drove back to drop me off at the OC campus that day and these men genteely explained to me the finer points of dressing for success (you wondered, “why that picture?”, I know you did), Scot almost wrecked the car at I-44 and Broadway while looking at my bad polyester tie and shiny patterned shirt.

Time, life, and goals took Ted and Bev to Brazil, Scot to Michigan/Dallas/Michigan and all points between, and me to Texas before we all somehow landed back in OKC. And when I was reintroduced to them many moons later, we all had changed, and that is the point where I believe I can begin to refer to them as friends, indeed (and in deed). You see, we have much more in common as 40 something’s than we ever did “back in the day”. Scot and his wife Dawn even share a reality of life with Sherry and I in the real world that is RA and autoimmune diease.

I’ve learned a lot from watching and listening to these guys the past few years. We even dress alike, although that may not be worth bragging about.

And in 2011, I think the real “Big Brother” is watching over us, but this one is much greater and gentler than that of Orwell’s imagination. His name is Jesus, and He is the author and perfecter of the faith of the imperfect. That’d be guys like us (but not Bev, Dawn, or Sherry. They are perfect, in practically every way).

In closing, maybe real men do eat quiche, or real men in the making. I hear it is high in protein.

So, gents, if you read this, let’s plan lunch soon. I’m buying. But this time, let’s go for some manly comfort food, 2011 style.

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