The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Standing in the sunshine... preparing to dig an escape tunnel.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Beka Is SO Weird (A Humorous Interlude)


The following scenario plays out pretty much every time a certain furry critter in our house gets her hungry on. And it's something she's done since she became a part of our family...

So, here's the drill...

She wanders over to her pen, browses through the various things in there, like some sheets she can toss around or lay on, a couple of toys she can chew on, her water bowl (always an important part of her daily requirements), and then peruses the bowl o' kibble.

*hmmm...*

She'll sniff around the bowl, analyzing the kibbley fragrance therein, then gently reach in, pick up a few nuggets of kibble goodness...

And bring them out to the rug in front of my chair, munching them there.

If things are up to m'lady's usual standards, she'll head back into the pen and proceed with the rest of the meal.

If she's unsure, she'll head back into the pen, pick up a few more nuggets of kibble goodness, bring them back out to the rug in front of my chair, and once again sample the kibble du jour.

After the second tasting, the possible outcomes could include:

Another sampling o' kibble; A final decision to commit and munch down the bowl (and yes, I do mean that literally - she'll down the kibble, belch thunderously, and grab her bowl to fling around...); Or, she could decide that she's not really in the mood for kibble, whereupon she'll grab some of those sheets I mentioned and bury her bowl under them.

We've never had a dog who had such a complicated process in place to decide things in matters of the munchies. I'm not sure if it's the Ibizan Hound equivalent of casting lots, or the doggie version of the Urim and Thummim, or... um...

No clue. I got nuttin'.

But none of our previous dogs have engaged in such a complicated ritual...

Two of them were certified Hoovers - put the bowl down, doggie proceeds to suck up the kibbley goodness, hopefully taking time to chew at least a little.

(The second of those, Ezzie the Wonder Dog, had to have some help to slow her down - a bowl with obstructions she had to dig around, or a kibble ball she had to bat around to get the food out of. She still horfed the stuff down in an alarmingly rapid fashion. Ah well.)

The one between the Hoovers, Kira (our Husky, and absolutely momma's girl...) was a slow and dainty eater, totally on her terms and her schedule.

So no, we've never really had one like Beka. The whole "take a taste test, then consider what to do next" thing is all new to us.

And really weird.

Where did she learn this? What inner calling or instinct led her to pretend she's at Costco on a super Saturday sample day, "where kids eat free always?"

I'm sure that I'll never know.

(Don't laugh - I know someone whose idea of taking the kids out to eat was just that - hit the samples, hit 'em multiple times, and repeat until the kids are full. Really really REALLY embarrassing... and I wasn't even there. Just heard the tales afterward. *shudder*)

Although I don't think that dogs have immortal souls, I'd be delighted to be wrong about that and meet up with Beka someday where the lion and lamb lay down together.

And I'd be even more delighted if the Narnia model turned out to be true and we could talk with our furry friends.

And I'd ask her, "What the HECK was that all about??"

Now THAT would be heavenly.

I've been trying to think of a spiritual application for this whole bundle of fluffy... other than "Taste and see that the Lord is good," that is.

So far, nuttin'.

And maybe that's alright. Sometimes we can just observe the oddities around us that make us wonder, and leave it at that. We can ponder the quirks and craziness, the weird and wonderful, and simply sit back and smile. No deeper meaning needed - just enjoy the little things  reminding us that God has a really great sense of humor.

Oh - watch out for the kibble burp. It'll arrive about 30 seconds after the kibble goes bye bye. Yowza.

And if you value your sanity (And sense of smell - or so I've been told, since I'm incapable of experiencing the full impact...), DON'T be standing behind her when she goes into a full-length stretch. Trust me on this, my peeps. *shudder* Trust me.

Just stand back (Well away from the stern...), wonder, smile, and enjoy God's weird world.

Sometimes that's enough.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

You - Follow Me


When I have nothing better to crab about, I'll mutter to my beloved that "I shouldn't bother with this writing crap, since nobody reads it anyway. Besides, everybody writes, everybody blogs, and everybody and their distant relatives is working on a book. So why bother?"

And I'm finally starting to get it through my thick noggin that all that negativity, spewed out with extreme prejudice, is harmful to my beloved. It may (or may not) provide me some relief, via "venting," but it's pretty much a soto voce stream of negative that gathers in her personage and festers.

So it's all well and good (or not) for me to launch that poopy out there, but it's not good (or extremely not) for her. And since I really do love my beloved more than myself (or at least am trying to), I need to head that stuff off before it blasts out my pie hole and smacks her.

All of this has nothing to do with anything I'm thinking about in this present post-thingie, but it's still true... Just not related to this.

And yet...

No. Not really.

On we go...

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what's going to happen to him?”

Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what's that to you? You—follow Me.”
John 21:20-22 (MSG)

The last words of Jesus to Peter... "You - follow Me."

Calbert says, "Master, if I write all this stuff including fluffy silliness, weird humor, and occasional insights that You interject ('cause I sure can't take credit for the good stuff...), what good is it if nobody reads it? If nobody comments or Likes it or Shares it, or nuttin'?"

And the Master says, "What's that to you? You - follow Me."

Calbert says, "Master, why would you ask me to write? It brings no income to our household, it doesn't give me a good answer to the question, 'So, what do you do?', and it causes a bit of eye-rolling (granted, mostly internal eye-rolling) when I respond, 'I'm a writer.' Then comes the whole,'So, what do you write?', and I say, 'Um, fluffy goodness? But... I'm working on a book." (insert more eye-rolling) And then, 'Oh - what kind of book?', and I say, 'Well... it's kind of my story, about how I've been ReBorn.' (insert sound of crickets and silence), so... what about all that, huh? What about that, Master?"

And the Master says, "Dude - that was a run-on sentence the likes of which would have made Paul scratch his head and weep with confusion. Let's simplify...

You - follow Me."

And Calbert says, "Well, what about...?"

And the Master says, "Which part of 'You - follow Me' was unclear?..."

(insert sound of Calbert slapping his hand over his mouth)

"Better. By the way, just to tie something up from what you were thinking about back at the start of this thingie, spewing all those negative thoughts and comments not only messes with your beloved's head (who, by the way, is My dearly loved daughter, and I'm not really delighted when you do that to her...), but it's really bad for your head, and it takes your eyes off the one and only thing that matters... Which is?..."

And Calbert, removing his hand from over his mouth, mutters quietly, "Me - follow You."

"Bingo."

(For the record, I'm not one of those who imagine the Master with blonde hair and blue eyes, but I do imagine dialogue with Him sounds a lot like dialogue in my own voice and manner of speech. I'm fancy like that.)

So, my dears, can I ask you something?

How do you feel when nobody seems to see your hard work, but everybody fawns all over someone else's little effort?

"You - follow Me."

What commentary comes to your lips when some personage makes the "Bonehead of the Month" move right in front of you on the highway, causing you to slam on brakes, almost get crunched, and put every nerve in your body on edge? Especially when they continue on, oblivious to the chaos they just heaped on your plate?

"You - follow Me."

What about the loneliness that comes from feeling like everybody else is "in," and you're "out." You're not only a square peg, but the round hole has been filled in with concrete and is now used as a skate park. You're on the outside, and you can't look in - you can only imagine what wonderful things are going on in there, and you're not invited.

"You - follow Me."

You struggle - physical struggles, mental struggles, financial struggles, or just struggling to hold on to a little hope, a little light in a very dark world. And you seem to be surrounded by people who live totally perfect lives - no issues, no struggles, no darkness. Just light and hope and life.

"You - follow Me."

Is that easy? Is it too simplistic of an answer to our complicated brokenness? Are we trying to apply a gauze pad to a missing limb?

It can certainly seem that way.

- But -

The more you practice it, the more you press into it, the more you accept it as the only reality that makes sense, the more it becomes the only reality that makes sense.

It's freedom in three little words.

It takes off the chains, removes envy from the equation, reminds us all that we are all equally blessed and all equally broken. It becomes hope in the dark, love in our loneliness, and a lifeline when there doesn't seem to be one.

Three little life-changing words...

"You - follow Me."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Entry-Level Attitude



So, here we go again...

I am once again wading into the turbulent waters of part-time employment. Lord help us all.

And, as He seems to take great pleasure in doing, God led me to one job, only to throw in a sharp left turn at the interview, putting me in a different job at the same place that seems to fit me better.

He's fancy like that.

And as the paperwork gets going, uniforms get ordered, and my lengthy tainted background is scrutinized, I think about work...

(About that "tainted background" comment: I kid, I jest, I make a funny... really. No need for anybody who's reading this in connection with a background check to think I'm anything but what I seem to be - slightly quirky, with a weird sense of humor, but totally harmless. Really.)

It's an "entry-level" job, paying a little more than minimum wage. Perhaps not as many hours as I would have hoped, but it's a start. And it leaves some windows to find a second job to fill things in a bit more, or to sell all sorts of stuff and dial our house and life back to better proportions. It also leaves room to write, create, and pursue some of the other "things" God seems to call me to.

Again, He's fancy like that.

So, as I think about another "entry-level" job in my mid-fifties, whereas many of those in a generation before me were well-settled in their careers and the only dramatic change they anticipated involved retirement and a pension, (Not so for this boy and his "nomadic career path" - I really love that description of my journey thus far...) I've arrived at a bit of a revelation:

Having an "entry-level" job doesn't make you an "entry-level" employee.

(Note: I didn't say it was a profound revelation. Nor a groundbreaking revelation, a dramatic revelation, or even a startling revelation. I'm a simple man, and simple stuff is revelation enough for me.)

You can excel, you can shine, you can reflect your Creator at any job, anytime, anywhere.

("Anytime, Anywhere" happens to be a pretty awesome song by Sarah Brightman... And since it's based on Albinoni's Adagio, which happens to be one of my favorite pieces, the awesomeness is twofold...

But the Proofreader doesn't let me listen to that piece too often - the Albinoni, not Sarah Brightman - it may cause weeping, could trigger depression, or result in Calbert being even weirder than he usually is.

Ain't nobody got time for that...)

This rambling line of thinking was shaped in part by our pastor, who shared a story from How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gill. Now, I'm not "A Son of Privilege," and I'm part of the Biggby Nation, but still - I saw some dots to connect, and found myself on this train of thought.

More like a boxcar, actually.

One that could easily be pulled behind the Little Engine That Could.

Without making him break a sweat, that is. Or oil. Or whatever it is that Little Engines break out in.

Anyway...

The jobs I seem to be able to get these days are considered entry-level - they usually don't require experience, don't bring a lot of bacon to the table, and tend to have a bit of turnover.

The reason I seem to live at this level in this season of life?

Because in the two areas that, for me, could be called "career paths," (if you have a particularly broad definition and view of that term...) one is in music (performance, not teaching or anything else that would be practical and marketable...); and the other is in broadcasting (radio, actually). But if I were chasing my radio dreams, I'd either be told that my voice is too Winnie-The-Pooh-esque to work in mainstream radio, or I'd be doing a typical radio lifestyle, moving from station to station and town to town - a lot. (For a pretty clear reference on this, listen to Harry Chapin's "W-O-L-D." Way too accurate description of radio life.)

Actually, in this modern age, it's more likely that I simply wouldn't get hired, since only people with astonishing voices get hired, and ship their voice tracking over to whatever station hired them without ever setting foot in the building. If you have a great voice, you can be on many stations at the same time, through the modern miracles of digital audio and technology. And you can make some pretty good coin in the process. Sort of.

If you don't have a great voice, well, that's where we get back to the point of this fluffy goodness...

Entry-level jobs, then, seem to be my gigs in these latter days of my life.

-But-

That doesn't mean I'm an entry-level employee. After all, this ain't my first rodeo... Not by any stretch of the imagination. Even my imagination, and that IS saying something.

No, I'm one of those older folks working an entry-level job, thus denying poor suffering little high school students the opportunity to get their first job experiences, or suffering little college students the opportunity to buy Ramen noodles. Sorry, kids - I got a mortgage, you don't. End of story.

And truly, so far in my entry-level career wandering, the jobs I've had aren't ones that somebody who's on their first time around the block would tend to get. Being a Systems Monitor (my previous gig) may pay minimum wage, but the job requirements demand that you bring a lot more than that to the party. (Including a flack jacket, especially when entering the pharmacy. But I digress...)

My new job calls for integrity, attention to detail, and a willingness to deal with crabby people late at night, sometimes telling them things that they don't want to hear at the end of a long day of travel, and to still remember they are Image bearers, worthy of love and respect. Again, an entry-level job requiring a more-than-entry-level attitude.

So, in the light of that truth, I raise this stone to help me remember:

I may have a so-called "entry-level" job, but that doesn't mean I'm an entry-level employee.

And by rising above "entry-level," I give glory to the One who lifts me above entry-level in all areas of my life.

Entry-level? No - I'm exactly at the level my Father wants me to be at, right here, right now.

(The cynic in me really wants to insert a comment here, to kind of balance the Polyanna-esque vibe of that last statement... It was almost too "bright and cheery" to be something I said, let alone actually believe.

And yet, I can't - I said it, and I believe it.

"He who dealt it shall smelt it."

There. Balance has been restored to the Force...)

Let me say it again, since I do actually believe it - I'm exactly at the level my Father wants me to be at, right here, right now.

And that's enough.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Remarkable

Riding around Mackinac Island. Pretty remarkable...

I've allowed my life to become unremarkable.

*insert cricket sounds, as most of my 4.78 readers think, "I never really thought of his life as 'remarkable,' so really, nothing lost there...*

And yet, my peeps, there was a time when I thought my life was indeed remarkable. When the potential seemed endless, the possibilities boundless, and the future was so bright, I had to wear...

Something.

It was remarkable. And I allowed it to slip away.

"Oh great - it's going to be another one of those 'I'm so sad, I've let everything slip away, oh poor sad miserable me' posts. Lovely. Time to click over to some puppy videos..."

Hang with me, puppy peeps...

This isn't a "I'm so sad, so miserable, so wretched" post, but rather a "Hey - wait one crab kickin' minute! What happened? The awesome was right here just a little while ago - where the heck did it go? I'm gonna saddle up, ride that awesomeness down, hogtie it and drag its sorry hiney back here, dadgumit!" post. 

Now you're excited, aren't you?

Meesa too.

So, a little background comin' at ya, to help y'all understand why I suddenly seem to be waking up from a deep, awesome-free slumber.

I owe it all to The Animal.

As usual here on this little collection of fluffy goodness known as The Whistler's Wonderings, I make up fanciful names to refer to real honest-to-goodness folks roaming around in my odd existence. Probably not necessary - since I have 4.78 readers, I'm pretty aware of who they all are, and that none of them are members of the Creepy Stalker or Those Who Know Them club, so anybody I mention on this thing has little to worry about from paparazzi or other lower life forms...

Except for spiders. And you're on your own with them, my peeps. *shudder*

Anyway, I change the names just on the odd chance that a member of the CSoTWKT club does sneak into our merry readership, and then engage in the aformentioned-but-not-really-mentioned stalking thing.

Where was I?

Oh, right - The Animal, who has a remarkable life. How do I know that?

Stalking.

Just kidding. Really. No need for any sort of legal action or anything. Nope. Nothing creepy here.

Anyway, The Animal is a friend of mine, and looking through their images/videos/media on *insert name of social media site* is like watching a National Geographic documentary on high speed in your own personal IMAX theater with the volume on "11."

Wow. The Remarkable hath been brung.

Not to reveal details, but the list of images/video/media may or may not include: Dogs, water, a chrome gazing ball, snow, horses, bonfires, smiling personbeings, Smurfs, fish, selfies, tans, inspirational scenery, twins, whooping bottom and taking names, pineapples, shellfish, trees, Oompa Loompas, things being eaten, babies, cardboard, distant places, more selfies, outrageous stunts, random personbeings, energy drinks, cans of *processed meat product*, strange facial expressions, more fish, and a guy named Lars.

Note: that list began with the phrase "may or may not." Take that to heart, my peeps.

"Wow," sayeth I once again. Strong in the awesome is The Animal.

Now, exposure to that kind of remarkable can propel a personbeing in one of two directions:

1) Absolute despair at the mundane, useless level of your existence.

2) Absolute indignation at the amount of awesome sauce you've allowed to get flushed down the biffy of your existence.

Or, put another way, you either get depressed or fierce.

I've tried depressed - it rots.

So I think I'll take fierce for a spin, and see how it rides.

When I was in the first year after my surgery, when the weight was dropping off at the rate of around 6-8 pounds a week and I was seeing the light outside of my prison cell for the first time in my life, I decided to pursue some things that could be called "remarkable."

Like...

- Traveling Route 66

- Riding the lakeshore trail in Chicago, or at least the trail that crosses the drawbridge in Grand Haven

- Playing mini golf

- Taking Tai Chi classes, and becoming a "practicer" of Tai Chi, doing it long enough and well enough that I could justify someday owning an "official" Tai Chi outfit - probably in silky blue

- Riding long distances on my trike, perhaps even doing a half century or (*gasp*) a full century, getting fit and fast enough to justify getting a fast road trike, to really haul tushy down the trail

- Walking around the Museum of Science and Industry under my own power, instead of in a wheelchair
- ...Or the Shedd Aquarium
- ...Or the Field Museum
- ...Or just about anyplace else in Chi-Town

- Going to Disney World / EPCOT / whatever-else-the-heck-they-got-going-on-down-there

- Walking around Festival in Grand Rapids... haven't been back since June 2010, when I still had to use the wheelchair. After that day, it went down into the basement and hasn't been out since.

- Taking walks, playing outside, and just generally doing adventurous stuff with my Beloved
- ... And with my dog
- ... And with both random and not-so-random personbeings all over the place

- Working out, maybe lifting some weights, and getting fit... a little... sort of... at least, as fit as a saggy 50-something can achieve without extensive plastic surgery...

- Snowshoes, and the legs to use them

- Doing the DalMac bike ride, from Lansing to Mackinaw City, including riding across the Mighty Mac!

The list goes on, but note - thats a decent amount of remarkable right there, dagnabit. And honestly, if you look through my images/videos/media on *insert name of social media site*, you definitely will see a little of the remarkable.

Really, if you look at my "Before March 30, 2010" pictures and my "After March 30, 2010" pictures, there is an abundance of remarkable.

-But-

It's not enough. Not nearly enough.

I've allowed a couple of years of "remarkable" to turn into "unremarkable," and slide toward "pretty mundane," landing squarely in the land of "meh."

As I said, I'm going for "fierce" this time around, instead of "depressed." And the last thing I want to do with my ReBorn life is to let it all flush away into the land of "meh."

Or Ohio.

So this remarkable list of stalled awesomeness is challenging me to get off my formerly-huge-now-primarily-saggy hiney and get back to chasing the remarkable.

So, I shall chase. I shall pursue. I shall generate my own list that may or may not include a guy named Lars. And all it took was a nudge from The Animal, delivered via *insert name of social media site.*

Of course, if The Animal delivered that nudge in person, it would leave a mark. And bruises. And perhaps a need for triage...

'cause The Animal is fancy like that...

And remarkable.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Lesson From 106

Sunrise over Lake Huron. Magnificent.

As in, Psalm 106...

"They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture—a grass-chewing bull! They forgot God, their very own Savior, who turned things around in Egypt..."
Psalms 106:20-21 (MSG)

"They worshiped their idols, were caught in the trap of idols. They sacrificed their sons and daughters at the altars of demon gods."
Psalms 106:36-37 (MSG)

I am ridiculously short-sighted.

Not nearsighted - ok, a little in my right eye, but mostly astigmatism is how I roll - but definitely short-sighted.

I can't seem to keep the bigger picture, the long view, in sight. I almost always choose the smaller, the immediate, the "right here in front of me, right now," instead of choosing those things that don't make me feel all fuzzy and happy right now, but have great rewards in the near, distant, or way-the-heck-out-there future.

Short-sighted.

Dave Ramsey says that being an adult is having the ability to delay gratification toward a long-term goal.

Anybody who knows me knows that I are a child. Totally.

I'm getting better, especially here in Life 2.0. I'm learning that the long-term is so much better than the "now," making for a more joyful life and reducing the amount of whining about the widgets, doo-dads, and other crapola that I've surrounded myself with over the years.

*sigh*

So yeah, I have no finger to point at those who threw over the glory of God for some dumb cow statue. The ones who denied the power of God that brought them out of Egypt and through the sea, and instead set their eyes on the golden widget, doo-dad, thingie that was right in front of them.

How much wonder have I thrown over at the altar (cash register) of a big ol' electronics store, craft store, music store, or *insert name of your favorite consumer house of worship here,* totally forgetting the glory of the One who wants to lead me onward to a greater goal, a deeper walk with Him?

How many widgets, doo-dads, thingies, or crapola have I allowed to blind my eyes, to eclipse the glory?

Really, it's not just stuff that can blind us, making us trade the glory for some dumb cow... It can be relationships, media, or desires for what others seem to have that we don't - anything can become cow fodder, if it comes between us and the glory of God.

(Cow fodder, not cow exhaust, just to be clear. Two different ends, two different sets of problems.

You're welcome.)

What is there in your life that can cause a total eclipse of the glory?

("Turn around, bright eyes...")

(What? You didn't get that? You are dead to me, and to tons of '80s music video fans. Look up "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler. Absolutely weird and cheesy video that was cool and captivating back in the decade where MTV stood for MUSIC tv, instead of "angst, reality-not!, and programming via shock value." I miss the 80's...

A little.)

Anyway...

Note the way Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message: "They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture..."

Traded. Not neglected, ignored, forgot about like a bunch of dumb sheep, or had a brain fart of epic proportions - but TRADED.

As in, willingly exchanging one thing for another.

Kind of like when the kid next to you offers to trade their sandwich for your cupcake, and only after the deal is done and they've already swallowed the cupcake whole, do you discover that you now have a pickle loaf sandwich. WithOUT catsup.

Pickle loaf - not offensive necessarily, but compared to a cupcake? Fuhgeddaboutit.

On the other hand, pickle loaf rolled around a baby dill pickle with cream cheese? Mmmm. Ok - I've only had this as ham wrapped around a pickle with cream cheese, but I'm guessing pickle loaf would only enhance the picklessence of the dish.

Dang - I've really got to remember not to write when I'm hungry. In other words, every three hours.

It's fun being me.

So, it's kind of like "They willfully, knowing exactly what they were about, exchanged the Glory of God for a piece of cheap sculpture."

It's like me trading a Lake Huron sunrise for a garden gnome. *shudder* They're cute, but the beauty of the sunrise over Lake Huron is some deep dish beauty right there.

And a garden gnome is NOT a gift that keeps on giving. Nope. Not even a little.

So, saddlepals - look around. Got any doo-dads, widgets, thingies, media, diversions, or crapola that has eclipsed the Glory? I know I do.

It's never too late to de-clutter. And just like the sunrise hiding behind the clouds, God is there, patiently waiting for us to put down the distractions...

And turn around. ("Bright eyes... Turn around, briiiiiiiiight eyyyyyyyyyyyyes."

The 80's. Miss them I do. A little.)