Every Single Time

No matter how many times I get on the Sacramento River, I find it all simply stunning. Late this afternoon, my son-in-law wanted to try out a new fishing pole.

I just started taking photos with the IPhone. It makes me want to get a real camera. Happy New Year to you all.

I am one thankful man. See ya 2019.

Gary

p.s. A little song I wrote which seems to capture much of my craziness.

https://soundcloud.com/user-359965116/folk-dream-track-8-of-16/s-hP3GU

Thank You Part 2

Thank you for the hardships for they have soften me and made me stronger.

Thank you for the tears for through them rainbows of the heart appeared.

Thank you for the chaos because it made me more aware of the spaces of peace.

Thank you for the uncertainty because its path leads to God.

I took a few photos of the area where we are attempting to buy a new house. It is in a small farming community called Orland.

Here is Mount Shasta from the Black Butte Dam, the sun playing tricks on the lake, the cattle ranches below Black Butte Dam, and Mount Lassen off in the distance. I took these all while basically standing in one spot. What price would you put on being able to see such beauty? Priceless and all for free! I am so fortunate.

Random Friday Night Stuff

My goal was to read 20 books in 2018. They all burned up, but here is what I read (in reverse order):

  1. The Presence of God (Brother Lawrence)
  2. In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoirs by Paul Quentin
  3. Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons
  4. Living with the Monks: What Turning Off my Phone Taught Me about Happiness, Gratitude and Focus by Jesse Itzler
  5. Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr
  6. Eternal Diamond: The Search for our True Self by Richard Rohr
  7. Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
  8. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
  9. Alou: My Baseball Journey by Peter Kerasotis
  10. The Healing Self: A Revolutionary Plan for Wholeness in Mind, Body, and Spirit by Deepak Chopra
  11. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
  12. Meditation for Figety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How To Book by Dan Harris
  13. The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry
  14. Hombre by Elmore Leonard
  15. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  16. 12 Rules for Life:An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson
  17. All They Will Call You by Tim Hernandez
  18. Meditation is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why it is so Important by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  19. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcedence by Michael Pollan
  20. The Outsider by Stephen King
  21. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton
  22. The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations by John McCain
  23. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams
  24. Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hilburn
  25. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  26. Looking for Rachel Wallace by Robert Parker
  27. Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
  28. The Deep Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald
  29. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  30. What Am I Living For: Lessons from the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton
  31. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  32. The Judas Goat by Robert Parker
  33. Pursuit: A Fox Walker Novel by Indy Quillen
  34. Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  35. Valdez is Coming by Elmore Leonard
  36. I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson
  37. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  38. The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

I also had a goal of playing golf 20 times and fishing 20 times. I read too many books; only fished 7 times and played golf 8 times.

Attended a wonderful concert by LeAnn Rimes this week. I splurged and got seats about 8 feet from her. It got weird though. I was tired after working all day, and still sleeping very poorly after the fire, and she was a bundle of energy, positivism and, wow, so much talent. Sitting that close, I was concerned that my tired body language might upset her rhythm, so I kept trying to smile whenever she’d looked my way. Now I am not a natural smiler, so I had this series, I am sure of, stupid looking and probably really creepy grins on my face for 2 hours. Lesson learned: Sit further back (and save some money.) But, I highly recommend seeing this incredible warm-hearted and supremely talented artist in person.  I would rate the show up there with the Three Dog Night concert we went to in 1973. I was tired that night too.

Conversation between two of my grandchildren this week:

Grandson (12 years old) To his 8 year old female cousin): “When I die, I want my ashes to be shot up into space!” (tenderly) “It will be a long time from now, but where would you like your ashes to be spread?”  (I know this is a really weird conversation for children to be having!)

Granddaughter ( 8 years old and rather spunky): ” Just throw them on somebody I don’t like.”

Oh…my….goodness.

Small Spaces

First let me share just a few photos of our recent and first trip back to our home in Paradise, California. Driving through our town was beyond words. I told a friend that they should rename the town to Holy Shit because that is what I said a lot as we drove through the disaster on the way to our home.

Just for comparison, here are a few “before” photos.

The difference is heartbreaking, but….

… I continue to learn much from this experience.

As I write this I am sitting in this area in our travel trailer.

It is small and beautiful. Our soul supporting dog, Gracie is sleeping into a winter’s night.

And in the other corner is this little joy.

Christmas was a big thing in our old home. I would put up an elaborate Christmas town that I had collected through the years. The grandchildren would move the people throughout the town and their wonderful imagination would take over. We also often had more than one Christmas trees, sometimes three. The tree was decorated with ornaments that each told a story. Some were handmade by my children and grandmother. I miss that tradition. Still…

… my sister-in-law brought some Christmas ornaments to us this past weekend. A friend of hers had lost TWO houses in different California fires. She has a daughter with autism and her daughter makes ornaments. She gave my sister-in-law a bag of ornaments and said, “Take these to the people in Paradise.” They now hang on our small tree in our small space.

There is a small space within each of these ornaments. It finally dawned on me. I have been looking at big spaces for so long, I’ve forgotten the beauty of the small spaces in our lives. There are small spaces- mentally, physically, and spiritually spaces- available to me everyday. As I move forward, eventually to larger spaces, those lovely homemade ornaments will remind me every year to recognize the sacred of those small spaces.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, when I say Merry Christmas, I am just saying “Love to you and yours and wishes of peace and joy.” That sacred small space belongs to us all.

The Star

Last year four of us wrote an original Christmas song. I wanted to do something like that again this year, but the Paradise fire kind of made that very difficult. Still my dear Soundcloud friend, Chuck Aaron, took upon himself to keep the project moving forward. Chuck wrote the first verse and the chorus and I wrote the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th verses. Another dear friend, Lawrence Farr from Australia, sang the 3rd verse and Josh McAlexander sang the 2nd verse. Chuck is singing the 1st verse and I am singing the 4th verse. I was struck with how sad my voice sounded , but it is what it is, as they say around here…way too much, I should add. I am also adding last year’s collaboration effort with Mark Mayes from England singing/writing. Mark is such a supportive person. I enjoy his heart and humor very much. Finally, I am adding some Christmas songs I wrote and recorded. I hope you all are well.

With gratitude from Paradise, California.

Gary

Who Knows Why

Just before the Paradise fire burned up our house – (notice I didn’t say ‘home’ as I am learning a home comes from the spirits of those living in a house. If those spirits are alive, so is the home, regardless of location.)- I was reading an interesting book, written by Richard Rohr, a interesting person himself , about St. Francis of Assisi and his equally fascinating partner, St. Clare.

The author joked several times about looking beyond the birdbath when studying St. Francis. Personally I have always been attracted to concrete garden statues of St. Francis, even when I was a child and I had no knowledge of St. Francis. I loved his statues. Why? Who knows why.

So next to our driveway, we had a nice little flower garden with a waterfall we built from our own rock collecting. And, naturally we had a statue of St. Francis in the thick of it all. Take a look. If you can enlarge the picture, I think you will see St. Francis in the middle of it all.

We haven’t been allowed back into our town, but a military friend sent this picture below. The fence burned down and my now burned up work truck which was behind the fence, by the vanished chicken coop, is visible. If you can enlarge the photo, you’ll see that St. Francis still is watching over it all. Also, you’ll notice two cheap plastic chairs that broke and I was going to discard them. Yep, they survived just fine.

So here I was learning all about St. Francis and his likeness survived…along with kind of ugly plastic outdoor chairs.

Why? Who knows why.

Thank You

On occasion I will write and record some music. Sometimes I just record quickly on my cell phone, other times I will record multiple tracks on a computer. The songs range from spiritual to darn right near disgusting, but authentic for certain.

I find that when I feel inspired to blog, I usually don’t have much inspiration for writing music. During low-inspired music periods, I like to collaborate with others on Soundcloud.

At this moment, inspiration is low in both creative areas, so maybe I should join a gym and start working out again. (The ones in Paradise burned down.) Until then, here are a few songs and short explanations from the more than 40 songs I have on Soundcloud. (Sharing my songs and singing was another three year journey of getting over the fear of looking foolish.)

This one is about thanking all the people whose love is directly connected to action.

This one was written by 4 of us in different parts of the world.

This was written a few days before my father passed away. I miss him dearly. He was strong.

This one was inspired by the simple joy of hearing a child create his own music.

And, this one is from my 2nd cd, as I was trying to stretch my songwriting. Thank you all for such wonderful, kind, and wise words in your recent comments.

Family

Sitting next to my daughter’s house in our new trailer, the one we just got after the fire, I read this wonderful blog. I shook my head in amazement and just smiled.  I think you too will enjoy reading it. I hope I posted this correctly. Not too familiar with the phone app and WordPress!   via Family