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!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

WifeWisdom: Dreams vs. Lies

Photo from 08/07/82, tweaked a few days ago...

I've started a new category of posts on this here blog thingie... WifeWisdom.

Granted, it's  w a a a y  overdue.

My beloved is wise, and if I am wise at all it's because I listen to her. I don't do it always, not nearly as much as I should, but the more I listen, the more I learn.

Which is pretty much the case in everything, isn't it?

So today, as I am wont to do, I was thinking about my aspirations, my dreams, and the need for me to have a purpose, a direction. Such lines of thought seem to always discourage me - what a shock, eh? Perky Captain Cal brought down by a pesky little thing like reality? Say it ain't so!

It is.

My beloved responds that I'm listening to lies from Sightblinder. And instead of making the royal raspberry of rejection, I was actually listening. And even asked a question - "If it's all lies, then how do I tell the difference between a reality check (A random thought, a concern, a question, clarification.) and a lie (Something that will just bind you, darken your heart and close your eyes. It will rob your light and kill any chance of seeing a possible path before you.)? How do I identify a potential direction and tell it from something that, when I ponder it, only leads to darkness when reality and pessimism kicks in?"

And she replies...

"When there is no hope, it's a lie."

Holy Cannoli.

That there is something to ponder. To explore. To write through.

Alright, so when I think something like, "It would be amazing to finally get the clutter under control so we can live and breathe in our house without all the chaos..."

Well, that's good.

Leave it right there, use it to kick start the motor, and get going on it. It's a valuable dream, it'd make a great goal, and it's worth the mind-numbing amount of work because the end would be amazing.


If I add on to it...

"But I talk about it all the time, yak yak yak, and nothing ever changes. Nothing ever gets accomplished, so it never will. I want to, I need to, but my history shows that I never finish projects, so I'm pretty sure I won't finish this one either..."

That's where it turns into a lie, right?

And yes, I know most adults would read that and go, "Yes... duh. Can't you tell that without having to put training wheels on it like you're seven years old??"

No. Not yet, anyway. I'm getting there - slowly.

Let's try again...

"I'd really love to write a book. I'd like to speak to people, share the story and the hope my new life has shown, so that they know that God works in all our lives in amazing ways. I've fallen in love with writing, and I would really love to see the stories of God's grace take hold in others' lives, to encourage them."


"It's a LOT of work - it takes 10,000 hours of practice to put a dream into reality. I don't know what I'm doing as a writer, since you have to study and work and really hone your craft. And when it comes to the writing craft, I'm the village idiot. Anyway, my history says quite clearly that I never excel at anything because I'm never willing to put the drive and will and work into pursuing something. I do stuff, but I do it on the fly, pulling it off but only as far as I can without actually working on it. I don't put in the time, I don't pay my dues, I just wing it. So I'll never accomplish that dream - I lack the drive and will to work."

Well, that there is the lie. Yup. Whomp, there it is.

So, I notice that the "lie" (if I'm actually correct in identifying it as such) is about twice as long as the "dream." If it was a teeter totter, the dream would be stuck hanging in the air, never getting a chance to touch the ground.

Hence the darkness. Cannon fodder for depression. Can you hear the chains clinking and the shackles warming up for the big grab?

(And actually, I am learning a little about this writing gig - I actually went back a bit there and corrected my tense... or at least eased some tension. Whatever. Anyway, I'm learning. Really.)

So there's a couple of points I'm seeing here -

1) Look at a dream or idea, and, if it's worthy, turn it into action. Then STOP and go do it - don't drop the other shoe. See it, turn it, DO it.

1.5) The process of putting it into action will refine it, pare it down, and smooth it down from a rough rock to a precious stone. But that only happens through work - through friction and shaping and cutting and pounding. Let the idea live - reality and the process are the rock tumbler.

1.75) If you cut it off at the knees, listing all the ways that it's never going to happen, never going to work, then you'll NEVER grow, you'll NEVER see just how much you're capable of, and you'll NEVER take anything new on. Want to stay in the darkness you're in? Do nothing - darkness in da house. Hand delivered. With a big black bow on top.

2) Don't let the weight of a lie keep a dream or a goal hanging in the air, never having a chance to touch the ground, gain traction and get going. If the lie is all that ever touches the ground, ideas never become real.

3) Don't let the weight of your past, your history, your track record keep you from pursuing something. We're all broken, we all fail, but that doesn't determine the now or the future - only God determines that. And He loves His kids!

After all, Cal asks Cal, have you been ReBorn, or haven't you? Huh? HUH?

4) By the act of telling yourself that you won't work hard enough, you don't have the drive, you don't have the will, guess what? You just robbed yourself of the drive, the will, and the momentum to actually do the work. You just sunk your own battleship.

(Sorry this sounds like every cheesy motivational poster ever hung on the gloom of an office wall. I need to give myself a stern talking to, and unfortunately for you, you're along for the ride. Hang in there - I'm almost done having a word with myself. Thank you.)

So I'm placing these signposts where I'll find them tomorrow, this week, next week, next month, as a path toward a habit of turning ideas and dreams into goals and actions.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a job to go to. Then supper to make after that, and perhaps a bit of crochet before bed. As for tomorrow, there's a whole lot of things that need a kick start as we roll on down the road from dream, to goal, to real.

To Herself:
Thanks, beloved. I always listen. Sometimes I hear. So keep talking - I appreciate it.

"If there is no hope, it's a lie."

WifeWisdom indeed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Phabulous Photo Phriday!! (now with extra protein!)

It's that time again!

No - not that time... THIS time.

Another Phabulous Photo Phriday!

And since I, the keeper of the Fluffy Goodness, am longing for spring, absence of snow, less mud (eventually) as BekaV continues to try and find ancient ruins in the back yard, and most importantly HITTING THE TRAIL ON A TRIKE, well, it seems meet and right (or is that MEAT and right?) to roll out with a bunch of...


(Meet? Meat? Bacon?)

(Mmmm... bacon.)

To get this party started, let's put up a really, really crappy photo from years and years ago...
Our very first ride to Rockford. 5 miles. Each way. Almost killed me, but in a good way. Who would have thought pedaling 480 pounds 5 miles was hard??

Make note of that signpost - you're gonna see it again. Ok, Sherman - set the Wayback machine for April, 2010...
This is a prototype of The Rover, the first TerraTrike with a 400 lb weight capacity. And this is Cal, 6 weeks out from bariatric surgery. A match made in heaven - really.

 So, that day the Rover was ordered, and faster than anyone expected, like in June or so...
Rover in da house! On the trail. Something like that...

The Rover arrived, Cal jumped on, and the adventure began...
Rover at the beach in Holland!
Rover on the porch in da UP!
Rover rides to Rockford!
Rover on our own three-wheeled Labor Day Bridge Walk... um, RIDE!

And the fans went wild!...
Vicki on her TerraTrike Tour. Spiffy bandage optional but highly recommended...

And there was great riding and rejoicing in the land...
Which came to a screeching halt after the snow flew... Although a few trips were made in the cold. Just not dashing through the snow, in a three-wheeled open trike.

And when the seasons rolled around, through some pretty amazing events, there was a change in the roster...
Hello, Big Blue!

Rover got deployed to a new assignment, bringing RoverLove to another grateful household, and Big Blue came home to become Cal's sweet new ride.
Nice fit, eh?

And so began the adventures of Big Blue...
Big Blue has been to Rockford!
Big Blue has been to Ravenna!

Big Blue has been to Ada! (Hi, Donnie!)
Big Blue has been to Cedar Springs!
Big Blue has been on a Bridge Walk! Um... ride.
Big Blue has been to Biggby!
Once or twice...
Perhaps even thrice...
ALRIGHT! A honkin' lot! There! I said it!

And where Big Blue goes...
My sweetie's first ride to Ravenna!
My beloved goes too! (Usually.) (Sometimes.) (Frequently.)

Ezzie the Wonder Dog in her plush ride.
Ezzie also enjoyed trike rides. And yes, we miss having her along...

Homegirl's first trike ride... cried the whole time. Up hill. Both ways.
BekaV? Well, she wasn't a huge fan the first time, and promptly outgrew the trailer. So her trike career is on hold...

But the biggies for Big Blue?
Big Blue made the paper!
Being in an article about TerraTrike in the Grand Rapids Press!

And, somehow Cal ended up on the TerraTrike website as the "face" of the Rover!
Yup - sometimes when you go to the TT site, you see my big ol' face right up there. And yet, they continue to do lots of business. Go figure...

Another biggie? Traveling to Mackinac Island... Twice!
The only State Highway anywhere with NO motor vehicle traffic!
With my beloved, the native Yooper...
Talk about a trike with a view! Oh, and the beach is nice, too...
 Where there be horses.
13" off the ground = watch out for horse exhaust!

Finally, one of Cal's favorite places...
Aah - that's the stuff.
The Musketawa Trail...
Heading from Marne toward Conklin
Where a part of my heart remains, even during the cold winter months.
Can't wait to get back out there!

Now, I'm not complaining - I love Michigan, I love the change of seasons, I'm really content...
February, 2012. Yes, I said FEBRUARY.
Sort of.

Even so, quickly come Spring. *sigh*

Thanks for joining us for another Phabulous Photo Phriday! Tune in next week to hear BekaV say...
"Ain't gonna put ME in no stinkin' trailer! HAH!"
Keep laughing, furface - we've got PLANS for you...

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When I Become Real

It was a most amazing weekend last October...


Vicki and I traveled down to the Cincinnati area, invited by some dear friends to come and do some storytelling at their church. A fun road trip, some quality time in the car with my sweetie (where we always seem to find time to relax and really talk and just be...), and sweet time reconnecting with Bubba and his beloved.

Yes, his nickname is Bubba. No, his congregation wasn't aware of that. Yes, they are now. Yes, that snickering sound you hear is me...

It's been a while since I've done a road gig...

(For the record, "gig" is the generic term employed by musicians, performers, etc. It isn't a commentary on the type of event, the quality of the happening, or anything else - it's just a fast way to say program, performance, concert, banquet, solemn gathering, assemblage of like-minded folks in a celebratory fashion, etc. "Gig" just rolls off the tongue a little more efficiently...)

As I was saying...

It's been a while since I've done a road gig. What's the difference between a "road" gig and a "local" gig? Well, packing for one thing - I tend to load anything I might possibly need if we're going far from home, as opposed to doing Children's Church 3 miles away where Vicki can fly home and grab the ONE thing I totally forgot to bring, since having Vicki run home 20 minutes before the program is kind of hard when home is over 300 miles away. Or, to misuse the quote from Apollo 13, "Forgetfulness is NOT an option!"

It's also different in the preparation process. If the Lord would just smack a note onto my suitcase, giving me the list of stories, magic, and other bits and bobs I'm going to need for a particular program, that'd make things MUCH more streamlined. Alas, He's not inclined to do such a thing, seemingly preferring the "let's leave Cal twisting in the wind for a couple of weeks, then drop it on him the day before he leaves" method.

I really don't dig that method.

And, when all is said and done, He takes the stories in a different direction. 

In spite of all the stuff I've prepared for a 45 minute program.

And we end up not using half the stuff I prepared, packed. brought along and set up.

*sigh* Yes, Lord. We'll do it your way. As always.

All the behind-the-scenes angst aside, I made a bit of a discovery that weekend, that then got some confirmation at a totally different gig last night. The discovery is this:

When I'm storytelling, doing a little Gospel magic, or playing music either solo or with a group of friends, I become "real." 

Yes, I said "real." Really. (tee hee hee)

Maybe because in the process of telling stories, I drop all the masks I sometimes hide behind when I'm around others. Putting on a front, keeping up appearances, putting on a happy face - you know the drill. But when I'm telling a story, there's nothing there but me and the story. It's as open, as unguarded, as "real" as I can ever be.

I might have noticed this especially this time because I moved from that amazing trip smack into reality in the form of a shift at my day job  - 5am the morning after getting home around 10:30 Sunday night. Talk about a shock - going from being as real as I can ever be to a reduced form of me, scrunched down into the routine, mundane, gruntwork world.

NOTE: Make no mistake - I am VERY thankful for my job, I appreciate those I work for, especially my team leader, and any reference to it being mundane or gruntwork is a reflection of my own distorted perception, NOT anything negative about the place I work or the folks I work with. It's how I see the world, which is a reality that belongs to me alone...

I realize how much of the real me I've lost over the last six months. I try and create, but the words don't flow, the music doesn't sing, the art doesn't come. (Not that I was ever a shining pinnacle of creative output to begin with, except for crochet. I can make hand-crafted hairballs with the best of 'em, complete with fiber-simulated cat hork. My nieces so look forward to their handmade gifts at Christmas...  said none of them, ever.)

Unlike stressful times of the past, though, Cal is not whining, pouting, or otherwise being his formerly spoiled brat self. (Now he's just a brat, but that's another issue...)

Time Passes... Lots of time passes... Like from October 2012 to February 2013...

So, the interesting thing about writing in a journal, (even in electronic form, like I do) is sometimes you put things in one area, ("Ideas To Develop" happens to be the name of this folder - as opposed to the "Crap Hamper," most of which will never ever see the light of day... we fervently hope...) and they disappear for a while, (kind of like your inbox - somehow you jump from empty to 2,000 messages...) and then for whatever reason one of them catches your attention and you find yourself reading them after some time has passed, (kind of like finding a diary from your teens, only with less hormones and w-a-a-a-y less angst...) and you realize that although they are still true and good observations, the story has moved on.

And so shall you.

Unbeknownst to any of us in the first half of this little thingie, but knownst to me now, and about to be knownst to you, my time at my retail gig ended in December. That weekend in October was the tip of the iceberg, the first indicators we got that although my time there was valuable, was teaching me many lessons, and was providing grocery money (along with a place to spend that grocery money), it was becoming the wrong place for me to stand.

But the truth I realized that weekend is here to stay...

When I am doing what God made me to do, when I am acting in concert with His design and plan, when I am using my gifts that He gave me in the way He wants them used, that's when I become real.

The most real that I ever am.

And I realize that if my life feels dark, if I feel like everything around me is nothing but mundane, if I don't see His light shining around me as brightly as it can, well then it's been way too long since I've been real.

Too long since my gifts were used in the way He intended them to be. Or at least too long since I noticed them, realized that they were being used in that way, and didn't just pass through that time, making it part of the mundane and not mindfully seeing His hand and design.

Now, the day-to-day has to continue. So we do dishes, we take care of stuff, we run errands, we relax with a movie or a book, and we do what life requires and asks and blesses us and stresses us out with. Living as salt and light in the course of normal stuff is what we're all called to - that's "life."


We can't forget that the day-to-day isn't necessarily what He designed our gifts for. In addition to the daily grind (for lack of a better term), there are those times and opportunities that allow us to use those special things He's given us...

to become real.

And sometimes, those opportunities don't just drop open in front of us. Sometimes (more frequently than I expected), we have to step out, push doors, look through windows and seek the places where we can bring our gifts into action. We have to ask, to offer, to be open and willing.

You might have a gift (or gifts) that no one knows about. And if you were to sit around waiting for someone to ask you, well, it'll never happen because they simply don't know. Granted, there's a fine line between letting others know about a gift and pushing ourselves into the spotlight, and that fine line can be clearly seen in the attitude of the heart and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

(I did know someone who always had a few accompaniment tracks with them whenever they visited a church, just in case someone asked them to sing. God bless yer pea-pickin' heart - if that's how He tells you to roll, then roll. As for me, not so much. I'm a little more low-key than that.)

(Besides, I'm down with accompanying myself on the piano. Easier, and less stuff to schlep.)

(I jest, I kid, I ha ha ha.)


Is it just me? Or do you find those special moments when you're using your gifts in just the way He made them to be used, and there you are - becoming as real as you ever are or ever can be?

Amazing, isn't it?

It's OK to seek those times. It's alright to look and knock and see if the door is open. Humility fully engaged, servanthood totally active, mindful of not putting ourselves ahead of others, but still seeking to use our gifts and shine...

And be real.

As for me, I'm sending an email that I should have sent some weeks ago, and getting back on the schedule for Children's Church. I've been asked, they're aware of my gifts, and they're excited to have me be involved. I've just been dragging my feet.

And, when I realized that family stuff was taking me down Ohio way, I was bold enough to send a message off to Pastor Bubba, to see if there's an opportunity to stop by and be with their sweet congregation again.

In April, I'll once again be playing dinner music at WCSG's Father Daughter Banquet. It's an honor, a privilege, and a chance to be the real me while watching dads and daughters have an amazing night.

And this Sunday, as I have the joy of doing many Sundays, I'll be keepin' me real with my bass in hand with our worship team at First Cov.

So I look for opportunities, and at the same time make sure I'm mindful and thankful for the opportunities that are already right in front of me. Get life done today, and joyfully look forward to the next time He gives me a chance...

To be as real as I'll ever be. And to see a little glimpse of what eternity might look like - all of us using our gifts, as real as we can be, in His presence.

As the Bard would say in Fiddler On The Roof -

"That would ('will') be the sweetest thing of all."


Join in the Fluffy Goodness... are there times you find yourself "real" in using your gifts as God designed them to be used? Share, tell, and encourage others. Join the conversation - join the Fluffy...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Phabulous Photo Phriday! (on Saturday...)

Sometimes you make it. You do it. You finish, you accomplish, you "git 'er done!"

And sometimes, not.

So to make up for the fact that this Phabulous Photo Phriday is actually on Saturday, I present a post brought to you by the letter...


As in...


Now that I have your complete attention, I'll proceed... See, it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman. P-Dub-Wub-Diddy is da bomb. And I don't care who knows that I feel that way.

In fact, I have a dream of being asked to come down to their ranch to play my little whistles and such for a party or something. Everybody needs a dream, even if it's just waffles.

Since P-Dub is a fabulous cooking star and blogger, I thought I'd take one more step closer to her awesomeness by doing a food post. Thus bringing her awesomeness into sharp focus when compared to my own. And thus balance is achieved in the world. Amen.

So, on to a Wonderful Wacky Window into Weird... (Crap - just used every W word I know. Oh well - hopefully nobody will notice.)

W is for...

Work it! As in, get that mix in da bowl. And yes, someone my wife knows and loves did make that fabulous pot holder beneath the bowl. Modesty prevents me telling you who that is. Instead, let me go on with...

Water! As in, put de lime in the coconut and... no. Not that.

Way cool! As in, my little Rachael Ray lazy spoon. The better not to drip stuff all over the little pot holder thingie under the bowl. Although I still did that - keep reading...

Well, I told ya! As in, my little Rachael Ray lazy spoon. Being un-lazy prior to being lazy once again.

Way it works! As in, here it is in action.

 Warm! As in, how this butter is supposed to be...

Whoops! As in, I had no idea how grungy my microwave was... pretend you didn't see this, ok?

Warm! As in, how this butter is supposed to be...

Whew! As in, hopefully nobody noticed. Just keep going, Waffle Boye...

Wet! As in, wet ingredients in da house... bowl... thing.

Whip it! Whip it good! As in, pop music has had WAAAY too big of an influence on me.

Wiring! As in, make sure you're not trying to use the toaster or the microwave when you turn this puppy on. 100+ year old house - that's all I'm sayin'.

Awesome! As in, I just want the world to know that I have a Lemonjello's coffee mug. Bow down to my superior awesomeness, all ye drinking from S*******s cups. HAH!

Why-the-heck-haven't-I-been-using-this-thing? As in, I've had this Pampered Chef oil sprayer pressure pump mist thingie for years, but never used it. Now it's the tool of fabulous for the waffle process.

We Get It On! As in, time to quit yak yak yakin' and get to wafflin'.

Willy Wonka As in, when he didn't say "A little spritzing now and then is relished by the wisest men!" (ok - smile, keep moving and nobody will catch that one...)

Wafflepalooza! As in, here we go. FINALLY!

Wham! As in, down go de lid... ("Shut de lid, cook up de waffle. Shut de lid, cook de waffle in de iron...")

Wrist action! As in, now we flip de iron over to cook de waffle.

Waiting! As in, um, ... never mind. You get this one.

Wretched man! As in, totally forgot to add that little special something that Herself likes in a waffle...

Work it in! As in, as long as she doesn't get the first waffle, she'll never know... Until she reads this. D'oh!

Weesa DONE! As in, tender fluffy goodness comin' out!

What the HECK! As in, what my non-butter-loving honey ALWAYS says when butter is applied in any greater quantity than "barely scraped over the extreme edge of something." And, for the record, the butter was cold, the waffle was slightly warm, and it hadn't melted yet. So there. My waffle, my rules. Phbbbt.

Sorry you had to see that. Back to Waffles...

Weapons of warfare! As in, what we use to wage waffle war...

We Rollin'! As in, here's how we be rollin' wif dem waffles 'round here...

What the heck 2! As in, which is worse - a pool of pure sugar in blessed liquid form (remembering that my post-surgical self doesn't do well with a lot of sugar)... -or- ...

Wondrous to behold! As in, the perfect proportions of butter and a touch of brown sugar to provide just enough goodness to accompany a perfect waffle. I think the evidence is pretty clear. So there. I win. Yay me.

W!@@#$%#$#@@!##$%#@#$!!!!!! As in, the reaction of BekaV upon discovering that waffle love doesn't trickle down to doggies (at least while momma is right there watching...).

Wiped clean! As in, my plate. For the record, Herself had a pool left over, which required another (small) waffle. Hmm... perhaps she has found a more excellent way. DANG!

Thanks for being along for another Phabulous Photo Phriday (on Saturday)! Tune in next time to hear BekaV say...

"This Phabulous Photo Phriday is brought to you by the letter S, as in SHREDDING daddy's shorts. No waffle love for doggies - nice..."