Ugly Hat


Neil Diamond, and the smell of bread baking.  My hands smell of hard red whole wheat flour, and olive oil.  Three times I let the dough rise, three times I rolled it out, three times I oiled the bowl and let it rise again.  I’ve got little scraps under my fingernails and stuck to the hairs on the back of my hand. 

I need to get a book – so far I’m shooting from the hip – I need some instruction.  I make it cause I like kneading dough, I like peaking at it while it rises, I love eating it with butter and jam, minuets after coming out of the oven.


But now I must wait . . .




. . . bread won’t be ready for quite a while.


And so I sit, listening to Neil sing, wearing an ugly hat which I thought I had lost – which I had tried to loose.  I’ve heard it said when you let something go, hold it with an open hand – if it should return to you than, indeed it is yours – if not, well then – you never did posses it.  Well a year later this hat – as warm as it is ugly has returned to me.  A large shapeless thing, knit by a well meaning woman with more heart than fashion sense.  She had a booth at a farmers market – I bought the hat, asking her and the friends I was with if it looked good. 

On their recommendations I bought the hat – only to have my faith in the human race rocked when I saw myself in the mirror.

I have never had luck buying hat’s – I never look good in them.  This would not bother me nearly as much but for the fact that so many other people look so good in them.  It is this fact that prevents me from thinking that the whole hatting industry is filled with mean spirited who wish to shame those who would endeavor to wear their products.


Turkey Legs and Applewood Smoke


Joel comes over sometimes, I grill, we hang out and talk.  The first time he came he was not quite sure which apartment was mine – but as he later told me, he could smell the food from the parking lot.  Tonight he could smell it from inside his car in a parking lot down the street.  Turkey legs and apple wood.  With a little sea salt rubbed on skin before I grilled them. 

Savory smoke poured out of the grill for over an hour.



I really like cooking for people.

Cooking for friends, cooking for strangers, cooking with sisters.  You can hide behind a grill, you can avoid eye contact, talking while you flip burgers.  You don’t have to mingle but rather people come and talk to you.  There is a shy Neil.  He lurks in corners, and leans against walls. He gets really interested in your book collection or in scratching your dog behind the ears.  He’ll offer to do the dishes – cause for some reason it’s easier for him to talk to people when he’s busy with something. 

Shy Neil . . . he just shows up sometimes. But thankfully less and less these days.


Grandma Davis


I’ve returned home to Yakima, and life seems to be returning to normal . . . Darjeeling Tea a bit over-steeped, and needing lots of honey to level it out.  Baking lunch for the rest of the week, editing possible logos for friends, while listening to a lecture on Newton’s little known Detective Career.  Taking a break I start to fold my Christmas socks.  10 pairs of new Kirkland Signature Athletic Socks with “Sorbtek” Technology – and as I paw thru the cluttered drawers of my desk looking for a Sharpie I realize that for the first time in 28 years I don’t need to mark my socks.


I don’t need to mark my socks . . .

. . . I don’t need to defend my sock stash from my Father. I don’t need to hogtie and brand my wandering and roving herds of socks to protect them from roommates.  I don’t kneed to mark them anymore . . .


. . . Not sure how I feel about that . . .


Grandma died on the Sunday 19th of December at 12:05 am.  I was able to be with during the day and late into the evening on Saturday.  It happened really fast - I’m not even sure if she was in the Hospital for 24 hours.  My Grandfather died when I was a young teenager, and He was a man I did not know all that well.  Tall and dark, a man of few words.  He had brain cancer, and we visited Grandma and Grandpa weekly, I saw this man deteriorate, physically and mentally.  I remember when he did not come home one night.  I remember my Father searching the dimly lit streets of Seattle for my missing Grandfather.  I remember when he was moved down the hall to the Farm bedroom.  I remember sitting on the Grandma’s bed watching TV when I heard my sister Katie and Him singing – singing a song about his beautiful Katie, and moonlight and kitchen door’s.  I remember silently wishing I had a memory like that.  I remember years later loosing one of his poles over the side of the boat while fishing on the Sound and sobbing all the way back to shore, the sort of sobbing where your breath comes in ragged gasps, where you are on the verge of hyperventilating and your head starts to ache – I sobbed and sobbed, in front of my Father and his co-workers.  I do not remember much about the day we buried Grandpa – only one strong memory stands out – my Father – I was surprised by the level and sincerity of his grief.  Over the following years I visited Grandpa’s grave every now and then. A few rows back away from the road, in line with a tree on the opposite side.  I’d visit him on idle Tuesdays or empty Fridays.  I’d scrap dirt and mud off of his stone, or wander around by myself looking for the oldest graves I could find.


Years went by – I got to know my Grandmother better.  Our weekly visits tapered off, and soon I was off to college.  I called her every now and then, telling her about life, school, and girls.  When I graduated and started looking for work she bought me a suit.  I wore that suit when applying to job’s all over the Northwest as far north as Bellingham and as far south as Portland.  I wore it to two rounds of interviews with the City of Seattle, and I wore it when interviewing in Yakima.  I wore it to her funeral on Thursday, I wore it as I struggled to button the white gloves a stranger gave me, gloves to wear while I helped to carry her to rest. Gloves to place on the light blue casket – and there I stood, next to my Uncle’s and my Cousin and my Father.  We placed our gloves, and our roses, and I was able to watch the others as they placed theirs.  The faces of family, the faces of friends, the faces of people I’ve never met – people whom my Grandmother had taught years ago in her Sunday school.  I thought it odd till I thought of my old Sunday School teacher Mrs. Sally. 


Last Saturday was a whirlwind – I had been up late the night (Friday Night/Saturday Morning) before – I had much to process and even more to do, so I stayed up and did neither, rather choosing to go for a long drive with a fellow who is fast becoming a good friend, we ate corn nuts and late night Jack in the Box – which is the best sort of Jack in the Box to eat.  I did not think that in less than 24 hours I would be hurrying a hospital for a second time.  I did not expect that the doors to the lobby would be locked at 12:15 in the morning, and I did not think I would be searching in a wet and empty parking lot with my sisters for the emergency room entrance.  I did not expect to see a laminated post card of a poppy in full bloom on the doorframe to Grandma’s room.  I did not expect to see a quiet vacant look on my aunt’s face when I entered the room.  My Grandmother’s daughters -  tired and strong. My Mother, her youngest, was with her at the end.  My Grandmother is gone – and the sight of her – I knew she was gone when I entered the room - the sight of her stays with me. Not as a painful thought but as a stirring fact.  My little sister needs air, needs space – we go out and find the top of some empty stair well and process – we talk, we cry.  I hold her as she talks and remembers.  A night guard on his rounds passes us on the stairs and does an excellent job of giving us a respectful supportive smile.


And my timer is going off – this weeks lunches are done. An off the cuff creation.  There is an old jazz song sung by whom I do not know about the boogie-woogie at a place down the street being better than chicken fried in bacon grease.  So I fried up some bacon – seared three chicken breasts, tossed three cups of brown rice, two cans of mushrooms along with the mushroom water, salt and pepper a cup of heavy cream along with three cups of water into my amazing enameled cast iron stock pot.  Three-ish hours at 350 degrees and the rice is done, the chicken is done – it smells amazing.  I’m walking to and from work these days so the added flavor will work itself off I’m hoping. 


The lecture on Newton has been replaced with Ravel’s Bolero – a piece which I hear is as maddening to play as it is enjoyable to listen to.  My mind is all over the place – I’ve just been asked to be in a wedding – I’ve still got a pile of unmarked socks to fold and put away.  There are several new buds on my fichus, and I’ve got trash to take out. 




And like that life seems to move on . . .


. . . quietly . . .


. . . steadily . . .


. . . naturally . . .




And maybe this is why death is sometimes compared to a boat ride – cause the past seems so often like the shore, as you pull away – you don’t love the land any less, you don’t forget the shade or the smell of the trees, but eventually - bit by bit the coast line shrinks, and as the deck heaves and rolls beneath your feet you eventually gain your sea legs.  You learn to lean and step in time with the ship.  Again the land is not any less real – and you miss it – but the coast line shrinks away.  Every now and then you see a sea bird or a bit of log or plant and it reminds you of the land you’ve sailed away from.  And the scariest part of sailing, is venturing out of sight of the land – trusting that you will not forget how to return.


So we want an epic-ish/awkward-ish house photo


Can you do that???

Well I thought I could.



So I drove over, and we woke up early.  Early enough to catch the predawn light.  We could see our breath – the November waters were frigid.  Water adds a new dynamic to the process – you can’t undry.  It’s cold – there are whoops and WHOOPS, and loud cries – loud enough to interest the park ranger.  The sun is rising – the Sound is flat and still – and the water is frigid.  I’ve got my foot in a brace and it’s starting to rain.  Out comes the umbrella.  350 shots later we head back to shore – wet and shivering.



Epic and awkward? 


You tell me . . . .



Finding focus in the early predawn light



Metering - early in the shot, notice the water level at mid calf



Think "Cover art for Christan Boy Band" 


This IS their Christmas Card



Screwing their courage to the sticking point



To emerge - you must first submerge



This was considered to indecent for the Christmas card


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


In my element


Saturday Mornings


Some Saturday mornings you arise, up and doing with a heart for any fate.

And some mornings, some mornings your sense of adventure needs . . . . inspiration.


So I spend my morning with Christian Bale, Charleston Heston, Oliver Reed and Christopher Lee – and I keep a weather eye open for a sea-faring man with one leg.  The best – and by far the best rendition of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

I grew up with this movie – loving it so much that I would purposely not watch it very often. And yet I have – even now, every scene, every shot and every cut memorized.  I love the men – the light – the language – the sounds.  It’s a low budget made for TV movie, the acting is not the best – the special effects are lacking.  But it sticks close to the story in special little ways – little moments in the book are played out in the movie in quiet ways.  You’ll see Israel’s body sink into the deep – Blind Pew being run down in the road – and the music – the Chieftain’s are amazing!!!

And the sounds – the sounds are just as good as the music. Jim is sent ashore to tell “Mr.Silver” that the ship will leaving with the morning tide, he finds Long John at the Spyglass Inn.  When he asks for Mr.Silver the loud and rowdy inn grows quiet and still – and from somewher4e in the back we hear the thumping of his peg leg long before we see him – a deep, low, steady, thumping.  And then for the next hour and forty-five minuets it’s classic Heston.

Only it’s not –  it’s better - it’s what you wish classic Heston could have been.


If you can find a copy – treasure it. It’s out of print – only on VHS that I know of.  I’ve seen going for as much as 189 dollars online. 

So if you find your Saturday mornings needing some inspiration, if you want to escape from the snow and the cold of the season – well I know where you can look.


“Hey Big One”


I’m back from the hospital – sitting at my Father’s desk, trying to process everything.  A whirlwind – and process is the wrong word.  Digesting is too detached. Resting is closer to the act.  Reflecting is what I think I will settle on.


This morning I was headed to California, I call home and get the news.  A trip cancelled and a trip planned.  Different clothes, different shoes, different stages of life. 


Ice chips and little square green sponges on sticks. Muted TVs.  Dim lights, and shared rooms.  Private rooms. Late nights.  Long nights.  The smell of acid and iron.






Labored shallow breathing.




I’m back at my parents house now, my sisters and I will clean and talk, and laugh and remember.  My parents are going to stay for a while longer.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sitting in my old room at a card table in my Father’s new “office” and Mothers Ironing center.  A fresh coat of paint has covered most of the history I added over my formative years.  The door however still has the old Men’s Room sign I glued to it ages ago – I’m sure they love that . . . Looking at my Dad’s bookshelf I see what he’s been reading lately: Dante, Ovid, Homer.  A battered and well loved Harper Study Bible.  My Mother has re-sewn and rebound it more than once I’m sure. 


Do you ever pick up someone’s bible and read it? Do you ever look thru it and see what they’ve written, and underlined? Bibles are one of the few books we every write in.  I’ve started expanding the practice to other books, and found the practice valuable.  I see he stars chapters as he reads them,  I find his own cross-references, and read the passages he’s underlined.  And I begin to see a side of my Father I’ve never seen.  I see that we have many of the same passages marked, and I’m marking some of his.  I can tell he’s wrestled with stuff.


He’s got notes in Obadiah, passages highlighted and word studies marked with blue in Zechariah.  The gospel of Mark is full his commentary.



I got to get to know this Guy better . . .



It's been a while since I've been this tired. It has been rather it is the end of a long day - I've been going at it for 18+ hours.

A good tired. A sore back - long walks getting gas for a car with a fickle attitude about where empty should be.

Council's of war, a visit to Yakima's only co-op-esk store for malt sweeter (a secret ingredient for a baking project) mourning the death of my sourdough starter. Apparently you should not add flat beer to a sourdough starter even though the flavors would make for a perfect sort of combination.

Selling my camera - taking a break from pictures after the first of the year. I'm keeping a film camera - may make the switch to Nikon - a film Nikon. I've got to break the news to a few friends who's weddings I will not be shooting.

What once was easy and effortless and so enjoyable has become something different. Maybe it's because my I-pod died and now there is no music when I walk and think with my camera - maybe it because I don't have hours to wander and fields and city's to explore - maybe when spring returns and light and music return to my evenings, I'll go for walks and bike rides and to adventuring with friends, and maybe then I'll find things worth taking pictures of - moments worth capturing. A good picture grabs you - be it suddenly and forcefully or quietly stealing back into your mind hours later like a tune or a scent or a memory. It may make you cry, or smile, or feel something. It may have nothing to do with the actual composition and everything to do with the subject. A blurry poorly lit face, or a dim landscape which is a key to a huge repository of memories.

And so I'm taking a break from pictures for a while - not forever, but I want to be away along enough to rediscover why I love them. Like that fist crisp slice of watermelon in summer or the first smell of woodsmoke in the fall.

So who knows? The day's distractions are enough for the day. I'll take a stab at sourdough again and make bagels with friends.

I'll go for walks and make a bigger table for my apartment. I'll borrow Dad's bike rollers and prep for a century while listening to Chandler and DTS courses. Upstairs, peddling, putting on the miles in the confines of my apartment, away from the salt and the ice.

I'll tow the Mercedes home and see if I can rouse her out of her stupor. Belts and hoses and motor mounts. I'll road trip to California for a once in a life time trip with friends I love.

A good sort of exausted


Sourdough & Broa & Roasted Tomato Soup


It’s been a big week – lots of cooking.  Lots of new recipes. I am in the process of making a sourdough starter, in day two of four. I made a loaf of Broa (Portuguese corn bread) tonight, for tomorrow's dinner of homemade roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese.  I’ve never tried a grilled pepper jack cornbread-ish sandwich before and I’m hoping that when coupled with roasted tomato soup . . . well I’m hoping it will be amazing.  The Broa really turned out great - Fred Myers was having a sale on Bob’s Red Mill products and their corn meal (polenta) is the best I’ve ever found.  A really coarse grind with lots of grit to it – baked up really nice.  

Garlic, Pepper flakes, Olive Oil, & Tomatoes about to go into a 500 degree oven


It’s been cold out here in Yakima these past few days.  So I’ve checked out a book from the library on soup making and getting really excited.  My bread making skills have been improving, and I’m starting to turn out nicer loaves with better crust and crumb.

I’ve drank my way thru a few tea’s this fall and need to plan trips to Moscow and Bremerton to fill fast failing supplies.

Tea that I’ve had for ages is starting to be enjoyed.


I've started designing a small A-Frame.  I don’t know if I’ll ever build it but I’d like to.  In the neighborhood of 700 (or less) square feet – there is a loft, and a spiral staircase, a fireplace and large floor to ceiling windows looking towards the sunset – a large sprawling deck with room to entertain.  I’m trying to design a place that would hold all I’ll need and no more.  So it’s turned out to be quite the process, planning out every little detail.  When you’ve trying to be small as you can while still feeling spacious, you’ve got to think about every thing.  The kitchen will be full of natural light, the living room cozy.  Still trying to figure out where to put a dining room table.  Bikes may have to hang from the ceiling, discreetly mounted on the wall opposite the fire place.  The bathroom has proved a challenge – fitting a toilet, sink, shower and washer/dryer all in a very small footprint is harder than I thought.  But I’ve got time yet.  Time to save, time to plan and tweak.  Time to see what I need –time to rid myself of things I don’t use while learning how to be more efficient with the things I do use.  Time to go thru several design iterations. 

I’d like to build it myself.


Wall space for pictures, heavy thick curtains to draw in the winter – a large east facing window in the loft upstairs which would let the sun wake me in the summer months. A window I could leave open, so that I can hear the sounds of rain, and crickets, and the birds in the morning.  Remote enough that I could hear wind, and see the stars.  Remote enough that I could learn a stringed instrument without causing harm to my fellow man.


And the plans grow and grow sprawling from page to page. Wood shops and car garages, gardens and trellises, gravel paths and bee hives – and.


And I stop and take a deep breath.  Trying to gain perspective.  Pull myself back into today and it’s challenges, take out the trash, finish the dishes, fold your laundry.

Fix your car, pay off your student loans, turn off the lights when you leave.  Listen to the high schoolers, get to know their hearts, prep for work, punch down your dough. 


And part of me is afraid that all the planning will be for naught.  Learning to plan with a joyfully open hand.  Not sure what that means –  a joyfully open hand.  What that looks like lived out.  But I do know that any plan that forsakes the present will never start, and having never started will never see completion.  Plans must account for the dirty dishes, lost socks and car repairs.  It is this planning, this awareness and honest appraisal of the present which turns dreamers into doers.  Doers have long term visions which they hold with a joyfully open hand, plans that they act on in the present.



So I find myself working on much more than floor plans – much much more than floor plans indeed.


Peter and Liz


Weddings . . . They are starting to feel like reunions.


Seeing old faces, walking with and listening to old friends.  Hearing their heart’s.  Having them ask the tough questions only close friends ask.  Remembering so much about old weddings, wondering about future ones.



Watching Peter as Liz walked down the isle.  Nate told me I was looking the wrong way – I don’t think so.  You want to see how beautiful the bride is?  Look at the groom, he’ll tell you.  At this moment, when he’s got eyes for no one else, when all the other faces blur out, and all he sees is her.  When the woman he loves looking more beautiful than he has ever seen her look before. Remember, he’s made a study of this woman – you won’t notice all the details that he will. He knows her, he knows her smile, her walk, he’s looked deeper into those eyes than anyone else, he knows her moods, her joys, he knows her – more than that he loves her.  And today’s their big day.  Their start.  So I looked at Peter – and saw a man looking at the woman he loves – the one he’ll grow old with, the one he’ll fight with and struggle with and smile and cry with.




Do you ever look at their hands?

I mean during the ceremony – here they are – up in front of everybody – they have to stand their holding each other’s hands for quite a while. Just stand and look at each others.  Watch his thumbs – any wedding – does not matter – watch the groom’s hands, watch the bride’s hands.




Just watch them – I’ve never felt I’ve captured the hands during the ceremony just right.  It’s the only expression they allow themselves during the majority of the ceremony – and such a subtle one that I am not sure they are even aware of it.  But it speaks volumes.  You want to see tenderness, excitement, love, nervousness, and a whole host of emotions?


Look at the hands.


Life is full of these small clues – look around, hear all that is unsaid, see all that is unspoken.  These seem to be truer, and deeper stories.




Yeah . . .


I'm growing a beard


It's been about two months now


and it's really starting to fill in


The mustach may need to be trimmed


it's starting to join in when I have a cup of tea


and sometime it get's . . . scruffy



Bringing the beard back – one day at a time. 


Thursday Night



I'm still working on that book



A secret blend of spices, oils, and salts



I may toast a few of them in a skillet next time round



It’s Thursday night.  I come home to my apartment, empty and cold.  I’ve worked late at the office – we needed to get out some construction site observation notes before end of the day.  I’ve got lots to do tonight – make dinner, pack for a trip to the west side, plan out a wedding shoot, study, process all that’s happened during the day, fix my bike for winter riding.  I sit and listen to the messages on my phone again.  What a difference 15 minutes can make.


I sigh and putter about, looking in my cupboards – exploring the deep recesses of my refrigerator trying to find inspiration.  Half a head of red cabbage, an onion, a can of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Some chicken breast I had sliced, seasoned, and frozen last month. 

“What had I seasoned that with any way . . . False saffron, salt, fire oil and something else . . . “

“Why do I buy red cabbage . . . it never looks good in leftovers”

On the floor next to my bookshelf lies a stack of Louis L`Amour audiobooks, tonight it’ll be “The High Lonesome” and as I chop vegetables, and thaw out the chicken I listen.

And as so often happens I stop listening, I start thinking – thinking about work, about my student loans, about bills, and Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, and weddings and funerals, and births and life.  And I fade back in – suddenly the story breaks in upon my mind, and I realize not been listening.

I put 5 cloves of garlic thru the press, I put dried chilies, oils and salts into the pestle.  I grind and grind and grind.  I sit at my desk and smell and think. 

My apartment is cold – I find a sweater.  The chickens thawed by now.  I’m waiting for my 4 cups of rice to finish cooking before I start the stir fry.  For some reason I though 4 cups would not be an insane amount of rice for a single guy to make.  4 cups of rice, 2 of them long brown rice, 1 cup a very very glutinous rice (I learned really quick never to let this stuff dry on anything) and 1 cup of sticky rice.  4 cups of rice, 7 of water. By the time the rice is cooked the bad guys have ridden into town, robbed the bank and managed to evade the posse.


And again I’m lost in thought – it is odd to see how alone, how solitary life can be even with people nearby.  Quietly routine slips in and provides a framework that keeps loneliness at bay.  There are dishes to do.  Leftovers to weight out and divide.  Laundry, and photo projects, weekends which are a blur of activity.

And . . . and now the ring leader is giving up an chance to escape into Mexico with the loot, to instead save a beautiful young lady and her father from the Indians. 


I love this stuff.



It’s all so . . . so – perfectly predictable, and wonderfully chivalrous.  I’m guessing it was an early Spanish ancestor’s of Louis L`Amour  whose tales of chivalry drove Don Quixote to his mad adventures.

The Virginian – now there’s a chivalric tale – and I see I’m straying from whatever point I started on. 



In the end I made dinner, I did my dishes, I left the packing and the planning for the morning.  I finished the story.  I sat and pondered, asking myself what are the sources of contentment – but that conversation is too long to post here.


All in all, a good – albeit quiet Thursday night.


To tired to even try to be eloquent

























Went to the cider party last weekend. 

It was good.  Pizza burgers.  Sticky hands.  Apple pulp in my hair.  Wood smoke, straw bales and roasted marshmallows.  Friends long unmet.  Hymns and hay rides.  Gloves, caps, mittens and scarves.


Sometimes . . .


Sometimes I forget to return calls.

Sometimes I like to eat baby food.

Sometimes I sing while shopping.

Sometimes I cook to much food.

Sometimes I stay up too late.

Sometimes I eavesdrop.

Sometimes I listen to the same song over and over and over.

Sometimes I write.

Sometimes I use to much salt.

Sometimes I give myself a hair cut.

Sometimes I get flat tires.

Sometimes I lock myself out of my apartment.

Sometimes I burn the roast.

Sometimes I stare at the sun.

Sometimes I leave the milk out.

Sometimes I sit in my chair and just breath.

Sometimes I drive thru the night.

Sometimes I need to talk.

Sometimes I get shy.

Sometimes I get it right.

Sometimes I make faces at babies.

Sometimes I open doors.

Sometimes I call the cops.

Sometimes I listen.

Sometimes I wink.

Sometimes I make French Toast.

Sometimes I need to call you.

Sometimes I wonder where this road is going.

Sometimes I pet the cat.

Sometimes I clam up.

Sometimes I escape.

Sometimes I understand.

Sometimes I order a quad shot over ice.

Sometimes I pick flowers.

Sometimes I explore the woods.

Sometimes I avoid you.

Sometimes I see but do not perceive.

Sometimes I forget the SD card.

Sometimes I’m humble.

Sometimes I wish.

Sometimes I sigh.

Sometimes I say “yep yep”

Sometimes I eat out.

Sometimes I worry.

Sometimes I draw.

Sometimes I am right handed.

Sometimes I drink one percent.

Sometimes I get angry.

Sometimes I threaten to feed people quarters – and tell them they’ll like it.

Sometimes I drink the whole glass without stopping for air.

Sometimes I write in books.

Sometimes I dog-ear pages.

Sometimes I forget I made tea.

Sometimes I pretend to be asleep.

Sometimes I can be a “Me-Monster”

Sometimes I squeeze from the middle.

Sometimes I write messages in the mustard before I spread it.

Sometimes I have to throw away everything in my fridge and start over.

Sometimes I have to push start your car.

Sometimes I forget



and then I remember.

Sometimes I can’t wake up from my dreams.

Sometimes I cheat at Rook.

Sometimes I get swallowed up in a project.

Sometimes I get lost.

Sometimes I want to get lost.

Sometimes I get up early and watch the sunrise.

Sometimes I plan an adventure and go.

Sometimes I go.

Sometimes I spell things wrong.

Sometimes I bite my nails.

Sometimes I bend down and look under rocks.

Sometimes I like being alone.

Sometimes I go shopping just to be around people.

Sometimes I take pictures.

Sometimes I talk to strangers.

Sometimes I wish I could do more.

Sometimes I think about moving to England.

Sometimes I want to buy coffee for a stranger.

Sometimes I want to bear all your troubles away.

Sometimes I eat beets and then think I’m dying the next morning.

Sometimes I forget your name.

Sometimes I pick scabs.

Sometimes I build forts in my living room.

Sometimes I hum with a strident forcefulness.

Sometimes I hear more than you realize.

Sometimes I am ticklish.

Sometimes I sleep on the floor, just to make sure I still can.





Sometimes I say everything but what I’m trying to say.




Here – I want you here.  Be here.  HERE.


It’s starting to make sense – I’m starting to see.  And it’s exciting – painful – good – hard – difficult – joyous – and long, and deep, and late.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

2nd Corinthians 1:3-4

The word for comfort here (parakaleō) literally means to “come along side” – I don’t know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to look someone in the eyes, and listen to their heart. 

To hear and understand and listen and know.


To share the comfort – and to point towards the source of that comfort.


The source? The one who comes alongside? The paraklētos? Well that’s easy – that’s Jesus.


And here’s something I love – an emphasis that gets lost in the translation from greek the fact that all of our afflictions (plural) are swallowed up by the comfort (singular) with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  That same comfort is sufficient, no more than sufficient – it exceeds, far beyond all our afflictions – that one comfort.


And while your thinking about that – think about this. Comfort shared is comfort relived.  I can’t unpack and share the comfort I’ve received without being reminded of God’s comfort. Try to telling a moving story, without being moved.  The more you share this spring, the more it flows.  Like widening a culvert, or deepening a canal. 


Stay up late – listen, share.  Come alongside. Share the comfort you’ve received.  There is only one demand comfort makes of you – to be acknowledged and shared – and this is a joy.


Crusted with Barnacles


There are reminders still . . . like drops of oil that float to the surface.  Upward they rise, slowly leaking out the hull of ship, long sunken – a memory which still has the power to haunt you.

They break on the surface – spreading out – leaving a rainbow colored sheen on the water – a reminder of what once happened here. 


Don’t confuse buried and forgotten with processed and completed.  As relics from that wreck wash up on shore do not throw them back into the sea – the sea does not hold it’s secrets forever – no, it disgorges them – sometimes in storms, sometimes in gales, sometimes on washed up tangled with seaweed, crusted with barnacles – and smelling odious.  No, rather take those relics you find – relics you cannot bear to have near you and take them to the Lord, He trades grace for relics.  He trades generously.




Generously indeed.


And the more you bring in trade, the more relics you’ll start to see, and the more you’ll start to bring.  Soon in your eagerness you’ll start digging around, you’ll starting hunting for relics seeing what you’ll be able to find.






God is faithful – faithful indeed.


Stand in the gap


{Monosyllabic guttural utterance, expressing surrender, peace, weariness, resignation, acceptance, and contentment}

The long words are easy – it’s the short words – the words that actually have meaning, which are harder.  Words that require understanding, understanding to compile, and to arrange.

Would it be a better world if words were adequate – if words could sufficiently express all that we felt, and knew.  What would we gain?  What would we loose?  Would we understand each other better?  Would we understand ourselves better? 


What would happen to those things which stand in the gap of understanding?


What would happen to music?  What would happen to art?  To theater, storytelling, and coffeehouses?  Maybe communication is complicated because we are complicated, and that which we are trying to understand is complicated, and even more complicated than we suspect – maybe there are things which cannot be broken into syllables.  Things vaster, deeper, truer, grander, more awful, more wonderful, more beautiful, more terrible than we can tell.



Look a sunrise – can you tell it’s whole story?  Look a rain drop – do you know it’s tale?



Now look at your parents – your siblings – your spouse.  Can you explain them?




Now look at yourself.










Now get in your car and go for a drive – don’t worry about the words . . . words will fail you. Thank goodness we can hear beyond the words of our friends and loved ones – that we can hear their hearts, their hopes, and their dreams. 


Don’t rely on words.  Rely on time – shared experiences, shared trials, shared meals, shared laughter and smiles, shared tears and brokenness – you want to know and be known? It is in this ground which that plant grows. 


And the words? Well they just stand in the gap . . .


Lookout Duty


(Written on Friday September 25th 2010)

Tonight I’m squeezing down under a dusty stairwell to get a shot that I’ll only be able to attempt once.  He can only surprise her once, she doesn’t realize that he had the ring smuggled to him weeks ago – he’s talked to her father, she thinks that he’s leaving on Sunday to do that. I have one chance – one chance to capture this for the both of them.  I’ve adjusted the flood lights, I’ve walked thru the steps with him, I’ve put discrete bits of tape on the floor – there is a structural beam which could be a problem – He had me make a music mix to run in the background as well. 

So I’m sitting here, at a table with a white table cloth, flowers, and a ring – on a Friday night.  Listening to the most romantic music mix I could make - Ella, Nina, Louie, Billie, Dean, Frank, Nora, Michael, Madeline, Ingrid, Holly, and Ray are all keeping me company to night. 

I’m on lookout duty – for the next 2 hours.

Earlier I went to the pub downstairs to get something to eat – my first time sitting at a bar – by myself – on a Friday night. 



Interesting . . . . in the space of two minutes, I managed to alienate the bartender, and have a not quite drunk, not quite sober fellow tell me that I was “very big”

So this is my Friday night – waiting for text that will tell me to dim the lights and get into position.

I’ll hunker down, take off my shoe and my boot to better slide around silently – and hopefully I’ll snag a photo that will bring them smiles for the rest of their lives together . . .









~ ~ ~


Snippets from an Unrelated Project















~     ~     ~

And Another Very Unrelated Shoot





(Written today)

I’m tired – it’s late – so, so much. 




I look forward to rest.




There is a scene I like in a Mark Twain story that I love – a scene where our hero has been swept away, out to sea off the coast of New York, rescued by a passing ship and ends up working for his passage across the Atlantic.  He ends up in London with only the cloths on his back.  And there is a scene in this tale – a small scene which does little to progress the story, but reveals much of the character of our hero.

He sit’s on a bench in the park to take stock of his situation.


Here when I read this story is where I smile, here is a lesson that has served me well.  This young man – swept out to sea, leaving behind a life in America, and no money for a return ticket. 

Taking stock, he lists out all of his challenges with a cool and level head, and whenever there is one that is beyond him, one that is out of his control he tells himself to “let it go”.


Second favorite hoodie, at best.


I came across these guys ages ago – The Hackensaw Boys.  I own 4 of their 5 albums, but only ever listen to this album titled “Keep it Simple” and they do.  And it’s good.  It’s bluegrass – not amazing bluegrass, it’s not going to change your life. It’s like your second favorite hoodie, not your favorite hoodie – but one that you do enjoy very much.

It could be faded, maybe it’s a little stained.  It smells like you, like pipe smoke and grilled steak. Sometimes you leave it in the car so that if you’re out and about, you’ll have something to wear if the weather turns.  It comes with you on many adventures, never the star – but rather more of a silent partner, keeping you warm – it does not keep you dry in the rain, but in the end you find that you really don’t mind.


That’s how I would describe this album – not a “OOOhhh! You’ve got to try this now!!!”, but – more of a “hmmmm – you might like these guys”


Maybe it’s the cover art, maybe it’s the banjo, maybe it’s the harmonica – I don’t know . . .


It’s a song, it’s an album that I’ve taken on many a pleasant walk, walks in the rain, walks thru remote and rolling wheat fields.  On ferry rides, and thru steaming cups of coffee.  Long drives, and early mornings.  Maybe that’s why I like it, because it reminds me of all those things – it’s a song that I don’t have to listen to, to enjoy – does that make any sense? 


What I mean is, I guess is that is as much a memory for me as it is a song.  When I hear it, I hear the words, and the notes, and the banjo, and the vocal harmonies – and I enjoy them, for what they are – but it’s more than that.  In the same way a that a residence becomes home, not for where it is or how long you’ve lived there – but for what has happened under that roof, and between those four walls.  Home could be any roof – between any four walls.

There is so much in life that is this way – things that we enjoy, not for themselves – but rather for what they remind us of, what they allow us experience.  How often do we share in a friends hobby, or in their delight – because it is they, our friend, that we enjoy.    Why are bad - faded, blurry, and overexposed pictures some of our most precious and most dear . . .


And looking back at this – I fear I’ve given this little song such a big build up, that you may find it a little underwhelming – so please remember – it’s just a song.



A second favorite hoodie, at best.




The Sufficiently of Christ

Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down…
There is one thing which we all of us too much becloud in our preaching, though I believe we do it very unintentionally–namely, the great truth that it is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, it is not our feelings upon which we must rest, but upon Christ, and on Christ alone. 
We are apt to think that we are not in a right state, that we do not feel enough, instead of remembering that our business is not with self, but Christ.
Let me beseech thee, look only to Christ; never expect delieverance from self, from ministers, or from any means of any kind apart from Christ; keep thine eye simply on Him; let his death, His agonies, His groans, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look for Him; when thou liest down at night look for Him.  
(The Forgotten Spugeon, Iain Murray, 42.)




The problem with this blog is – is that it gets read . . .


No – no, that’s not it – it’s not the readers – it’s the fact that I know some of the readers . . . I know them, I’ve eaten meals with them, laughed with them, camped, swam, biked, worked, washed dishes, folded laundry, danced with and spun some of them.  I’ve taught some of them how to drive, pulled weeds with some.  I’ve house sat for a few.  I’ve plotted and pranked, I’ve floated rivers, and counted rail cars.  I’ve driven thru the night, and straight on till morning to be with these friends.


I’ve listened to their stories – and helped them write a few of their own.



Is your past ever behind you?  Or do your previously experiences stand in front of you, like lenses and filters thru which you look at your life and make your choices?

There are times when I want nothing more that to sever myself from my past – to stand apart and to see what the picture would look like without all the filters, without all the lenses.


And look - look what happens – take the lens off my camera, and see what you will.  Can you see my dirty dishes? Can you see the bananas on the counter, or my new stock pot? Or my (sadly) over cooked beets? 


Loose the lenses – loose the filters – and as a photographer you’ve lost it all.


And as I sit here soaking a stupid foot in very very cold water – as I sit here listening to the Postal Service – as I sit here processing so much, gears working quickly and quietly – processing, and praying, and thinking, and listening.



Sitting with my foot in a bucket.



As I sit here I’m reminded that while a photographer looks thru their lenses, they (if they are a good photographer) do a lot of looking apart from, and outside of those lenses. 

They see the light, they see the shadow, they see the eyes, and the smile, and they see – and then, having seen – then they look.

It is then that they use the lens, and the filter, to capture what they’ve seen, and sometimes, sometimes something more.


And the more pictures you take – the more you learn your lens, the more you know it’s limits, it’s strengths, the more you’ll find that you won’t have to take as many shots to get the image you were striving for.


And as I hobble, away from my bucket, and over towards my fridge to snag a mint grasshopper ice cream sandwich, which, in all truth, will not as good as the nestle toll house double chocolate mint ice cream cookie sandwich I had a few days ago – as I hobble over, I realize that I’m being a little bit melodramatic, and that my past is about as nice as the cool and tasty treat that I’m about to enjoy.


That I’ve been crazy blessed, and I need to sit, soak my foot, and think on that.









Stupid foot . . . . . . .








It’s finally starting to happen - in a city of over 85,000 souls I’ve started encountering people.  People I know – I see them around town.  I bump into them at coffee shops and grocery stores.  We honk as we pass in traffic – hurried waves and bright smiles.  The baristas know my name, I have new drinks tried on me.  I’m a regular in parts of town.  Bumping into guys I know from the gym in bookstores.  Yakima is becoming home.  I’m putting high school football games on my calendar – all these encounters add up into community.  And faster than I realize a network of friends is taking root.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I find myself in Northtown again, listening to Nina Simone.  Thinking the night away.  I’m upstairs tonight – on the main floor.  A young girl sits just outside my window.  She is the spitting image of Boo from Monsters Inc. Her older sister is doing homework – Boo chews her gum with all the drama of a 5 year old, open mouthed and fast.  Her sister rolls her eyes and tries to work.  The lights have gone up and the store is a blaze with a yellow light that shines on a beautiful tin ceiling.  Couples stand in line – and wait for Joey to take their orders.  I can hear the steam, and the beans grinding.  Murmured voices, chairs slide and scrape over hardwood floors.  The sounds of a coffee shop in the evening hours.  People mingle together – people focus on their laptops – Boo chews her gum and swings her legs . . . old friends bump into each other – and start to cry . . . . footsteps on the landing, and laughter rolling, flowing up from stairwell.

All I need is the rain – the night is cool – and the tea is warm. 



I’ve got a pile of studying to work my way thru.

And as much as I love Billy, and Ella, and Nina – they are more conducive to reflection than to work.



So I change gears – CCR and black coffee are called for!!!





Under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers

I’ve found that I’ve a knack for repeating myself at times.
I tend to reread books, I listen to songs over and over again.  
I’m in such a mood tonight.
And tonight’s reading is Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.  
A very interesting read to be sure. 

. . . I speak here only of an emotion,
and of an emotion at once stubborn and subtle. But the repetition
in Nature seemed sometimes to be an excited repetition, like that of
an angry schoolmaster saying the same thing over and over again.
The grass seemed signaling to me with all its fingers at once;
the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood. The sun would
make me see him if he rose a thousand times. The recurrences of the
universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation, and I began
to see an idea . . .


A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit
fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.
They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it
again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong
enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough
to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning,
"Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon.
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike;
it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired
of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy;
for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.


Poetry is sane because it floats
easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea,
and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion,
like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything
is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only
desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in.
The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician
who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.


I admit that your explanation explains a great deal; but what a great deal it
leaves out! Are there no other stories in the world except yours;
and are all men busy with your business? Suppose we grant the details;
perhaps when the man in the street did not seem to see you it was
only his cunning; perhaps when the policeman asked you your name it
was only because he knew it already. But how much happier you would
be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you!
How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller
in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity
and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their
sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin
to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you.
You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your
own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself
under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers."


Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire
to live taking the form of a readiness to die. "He that will lose
his life, the same shall save it," is not a piece of mysticism
for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for
sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide
or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage;
even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by
the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within
an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut
his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a
strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life,
for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely
wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape.
He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it;
he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine.
No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle
with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so.
But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it
in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance
between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the
sake of dying.


Chesterton and NorthTown, an iced peppermint tea, processing life as life passes

by outside.  So much changes, and so much stays the same.


And tomorrow is coming – soon the rosy fingers of dawn will pierce the night sky.

And another tomorrow will be upon me. My days numbered. My time valuable – 

my time squandered or invested? Heavy thoughts, somber smiles.  All good things.





Ingrid Michelson keeps me company tonight, my ice cubes melt and clink in their 

glass. This is life – this is it, these still moments of reflection . . . I tell 

you dear reader because in telling you I am actually reminding myself. 







This is not for you – No, I am selfish – this is for me.

The Rain has come . . . the rain is here

Tired, and weary the rain has found me tonight. Rain that cleans, rain that falls freely upon the street, and upon my head.  Falling on, and running down my neck, trickling past my ears.  Rain heralding a new season’s approach.  Soon the leaves with turn and fall, sodden by autumnal rains.  The rain will return.  The rain will always come.  Healthy and clean.  Running in torrents thru grates, and gutters.


The rain has come.





The rain is here.



We, the rain and I.  We talk, we listen, we breath.  We sigh, and we smile.  Seasons change, we part and we reunite. Steadfast above all seasons – the rain always greets me.


Wet hair, damp clothes, fresh air.




I walk and wander and wonder in it’s presence.  The solitude one enjoys with the rain, like all forms of solitude is best and most fully enjoyed when it is shared. 


Shared solitude is a deeper magic, and that which grows out of it is oft stronger than the gardeners themselves realize. 



And so I grow in the rain.  I walk, I talk, I pray, I listen.




I think, and I feel.








I ponder and I pray.



The rain is here.


The rain has come.


Quote of the day . . .

"Let's see - Luke was sitting here, and I was there - we'd better switch"


Code Adam


I was wandering thru the store . . . looking for a new pair of pants . . . lost in my own thoughts . . . voices come over the intercom.  I’m not listening, trying to decided between sweetened Almond milk or unsweetened Almond milk.  When suddenly she appears in my isle. 

I’ve been scared before.  I’ve felt my throat swell, and my breathing become shallow.  I’ve seen pain in the bloody face of a young man.  I’ve heard hearts in agony.



This was so different from anything before.




Squeezing her purse in a tight clenched fist, walking fast.  Calling out in an voice that was battling for control.  She was battling for control.  And control was slipping.  Slipping away.  Out of my isle now . . . I her voice becoming shrill with fear.

And I stand there.


I STAND THERE.  Like an idiot.  Like a chump.  A code Adam – A CODE ADAM has been called – that’s what went over the intercom.  Looking around I see store employees on radio’s, I see them walking, checking row by row.  I see her – the mother, I see her struggling to keep it together – I see her trying to walk 3 different directions at once.


. . . Yellow shirt – that’s what they said – her little girl is wearing a yellow shirt . . .  



Do I see any yellow shirts?  Have I seen any yellow shirts? 



Yellow shirts, yellow shirts . . . . . yellow shirts.


What kind of twisted freak would take a kid?!!!?!?!



And as I stand there scanning face’s, looking for yellow shirts – as I stand there I am reminded, just how fragile all of this is.  How in a moment life can change. 


A moment.




And how in a moment it can all come back.

They find her – she is safe.  People with radios go back to stocking shelves.  People with carts go back to shopping.  And life goes on. 


Disaster came so close.


And life goes on . . . . just like that.






I stole his seat. 


Rather I stole his table.   MY table – the one table in the room which gets hit with cold air from the AC.   The cold corner, where red and white walls meet.  It’s a small table, a couples table.   Now if he had been possession, if he had been using this cool oasis, I would have only looked wistfully in his direction – not at him mind you, but in his direction, reminding myself that often the race goes to the swift.  But he was not!  He was playing chess in the middle of the room. 


Playing chess in a ostentatious, vulgar manner.




The law cannot touch these seat hogging, chess playing fiends.



I’ve heard that possession is nine-tenths of the law.  I find this hard to believe, thinking rather that the law is nine-tenths obfuscation, shrouded in obscure verbiage.



I sit down across from his bag and break all the unwritten laws of coffeehouse seat saving.












Maybe my life needs more . . . excitement. 



This is sounding too much like Walter Mitty.


Bowling for Taco’s




Yakima – the land of the Taco Bus.  Not Taco Truck – not Taco Conversion Van – Taco Bus.  School Bus, Grey Hound Bus – Taco Bus.


They did up Mammoths here, just down the road.  Real Mammoths – not mastodons – MAMMOTHS.  I went to a mammoth dig.  I saw people with bamboo skewers, trowels, and tattoo's – lot’s of tattoo’s.  Leading – if their forearms and necks are to be believed – much more varied, and exciting lives than I ever expected for archeology students.  That is assuming, perhaps wrongly, that most people who get exciting and daring tattoos get them because they lead exciting and daring lives.


And yet . . . I don’t know – sometimes I feel it’s the people who are to busy living to realize how exiting and daring their lives are, that I find myself drawn too.


Not the young hitchhiker I picked up a year ago on my way back from a fishing trip to Oregon who loved traveling the country without a plan.  But a quiet Dad who lives in Pullman, loving his wife and son, taking amazing pictures in his free time, while working hard at his job – too busy being a man to tell you all about it.


Picking up that hitchhiker, hearing his story of aimless drifting, time spent here – friends met there.  A sort of solo gypsy is what he modeled himself as – a lone wander, needing no fellow travelers in his life’s journey.  He seemed to me to be a man who was – was trying to find what out what he was looking for. 

You know what I mean, the nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something – only you’re not sure what it is.  Mentally you back track, you turn around and re-trace your steps, hoping some detail with stand out and remind you.  And the harder you try the more it slips and slithers – a splinter in your mind.  Exhausted you stop trying, hours – even days pass, and suddenly without prompting, without cause, without fanfare – the forgotten something is there.


I was given so much to process today.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

- 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4

There are deep wells of grace hidden within affliction.  Deep, and still.  Grace does not quench your pain – grace does not suppress it, it does not satisfy it, grace endures it.

Grace carry’s you through it.  The pain changes you, draws you closer to the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.  It preserves even when you cannot.  Especially when you cannot.
















Especially when you cannot . . .


“Ain’t no hippie - just a New York Boy”

Got a pew in my apartment now – it’s orange – 70’s orange – very very 70’s orange. I borrowed Tony’s big diesel truck to drive it home. It’s a MANual if there ever was one. It was hot out, but on the way home I ignored the AC and drove with the windows down just so I could drive with one elbow hanging out.

I have not driven stick in an age – and had forgotten just how much I love driving stick. For the last five years I’ve been driving automatics. The last 4 months I’ve been driving an old red Mercedes, a turbo diesel with a slow, very slow rate of acceleration. I can get her hauling – she can really move, it’s just that gap between 0-25 which tends to stymie her. And I’ve gotten so much better at handling this slow boat, learning how to apply the gas just right, learning when to let up and when to place her in a lower gear. She’s now she seems to have zip and responds so much quicker than she used to. Where she used to crawl – she flies. Put in (rather watched a friend put in) new shocks, cleaned a few filters – and it’s a whole new ride.

Or so I thought.

Last Friday I headed to Pullman to teach my little sister some of the finer points of vehicle handling. We used Katie’s little under powered Kia. Have you ever drive a car with a sticky brake, that sends your head snapping forward? Or used a shower where even an 1/8 of an inch turn changed the water from ice to fire, causing you to tear down the show curtain as you flail about trying correct the current state of things?

The sudden and unexpected shock, you get when what you thought was milk turns out to be orange juice.


That what it was like driving Katie’s Kia.

I’d got it all wrong – I had not improved the Mercedes speed and handling, rather my standards for speed and handling had dropped. And standards are funny things – they tend to creep, without our awareness of it. And even now after driving Katie’s car, the standard is still there. It’s her car that feels fast, not mine that feels slow. I’ve noticed this standard creep in my life before – but usually it has to be pointed out to me, or stand out in stark relief for me to see it.

Creep – it happens to metals exposed to continual stress at elevated temperatures, it happens to people who are alive. It’s not the result of a sudden load, or a rapid temperature change – creep is a failure that occurs well below the yield strength of a metal – it should hold – it is the steady constant load and the heat that causes dislocations to slip and eventually materials to fail.

So what do you do if you have a bolt holding something in a furnace – two things. First you look at the loads and temperatures involved and then you design a bolt which will perform in these conditions – then you inspect it at regular intervals.

So how do I work this into my life?

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

1st Corinthians 10:12-13

He know what I can take – He has designed this bolt.

But finding that way – even when I don’t want to . . . . how’s that work . . . . well here is where Tony’s diesel comes back into the story.


I have not driven stick in years, and I only drove about 20 miles round trip last night – so why have I all morning been pushing in a clutch that is not there? Why have I been trying to shift into neutral at every stop light, and been wanting to downshift on every hill and corner?


Pure and simple.

Habit. It’s a force. It’s mindless. The car slows and my left foot starts pushing against the floorboards.

Habit . . . it’s dangerous, because so often it is mindless, or rather it can be mindless. And that is were discipline differs from habit I think – discipline purses a goal.

Habits are like kids – sometimes you did not mean to have them.

So use discipline to create habit, habits which will help and aid you when it comes time to seek that way out.


And Tony had a Neil Diamond tape in his truck – so I’m on a little Neil Diamond kick today – and by the way - stick to early Neil Diamond (trust me on this - his newer stuff not so good) .

Neil Diamond on the Jonny Cash Show