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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thowback Thursday: The Grace of Moving from Step to Step (January, 2012)

A little something from 2012, a lesson I'm still learning. Two years later, I still need the grace of moving from step to step, and not looking like a baby giraffe sliding down a muddy slope being assailed by penguins bearing Nerf bats... 

Oops - spoiler. Sorry...

Watching my teacher move is sheer poetry.

It's been a year since I began my journey into Tai Chi and, although I love it, I'm not great at it. Of course, no one is after just one year. Some are getting good, some are really moving along, and some actually practice every day and are getting downright amazing, but we all are students. And that truth is obvious.

My teacher will say that he is also a student, just one who got started a little ahead of the rest of us. Here's another obvious truth - "a little ahead of the rest of us" is an understatement.

When he demonstrates a move for us, shows us the transition from one move to another, or shows us how they link together in one continuous flow, I understand the phrase "sheer poetry."

I have an instructional DVD with Master Yang - we are learning Yang style Tai Chi, and Master Yang is the 6th generation of the family that invented this style. Watching Master Yang demonstrate the form is like this: if my teacher is sheer poetry, Master Yang is a symphony. Absolutely beautiful.

(As opposed to faltering student me, who looks more like a baby giraffe sliding down a muddy slope while being assailed by penguins bearing Nerf bats. Sheer slapstick.)

So how does one get from fumbling sub-part-time student to the Master Yang symphony? Simple - one step at a time. Add countless hours of practice, season with years of study and pursuit, and serve something that looks effortless and is beautiful to behold.

As I'm re-learning life, in my second year after being reborn, I'm trying to figure out how things move forward. I'm getting the basics down, turning the necessary little things that I have to do for the rest of my life into habits. My weight seems to have settled, and I really like where I'm perched, at least for now.

My wife thinks I'm cute. And some days, very quietly, I'm inclined to agree with her. I actually allowed myself the rather non-modest thought that I'm kind of... sort of...maybe... possibly (a little bit)...


I guess wearing a beret can do that to you.

So now what? How do I expand my horizons? How do I increase my world to match how I feel inside? How and when do I transition from "waiting and learning" mode into "mindful and active" mode?

How? One step at a time.
When? When God says to.

So I'm learning the grace of moving step to step. I'll admit - it's a slow, frustrating road that I simply don't get sometimes. I see things coming so fast all around me, I hear the cries of the urgent yelling for my attention, I feel the pressure of the immediate and all those demands push and pull me.

But to go any faster than step to step is to lose my balance. To ignore the graceful way of slow movement is to forget my path. Interestingly, in the last day or so, I've begun to wonder if what I see as being stuck, being shelved or cast aside might be something else altogether:

Being intentionally set aside, carefully nurtured and tended, and prepared for a specific purpose - one whose time has not yet arrived.

I've noticed that the faster I move, the less mindfully I move. Slower means I take more notice and more time with things... always better. How I think of this, the language I frame it in, can totally change how I live and how I view life. A conscious step away from impatience, frustration, and feeling useless, and a step toward patience, understanding, and anticipation of when the waiting is over and my time arrives. It's all a matter of perspective...

One of my all-time favorite books is "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. I totally identify with Milo, the main character, who is surrounded with things to do and see, but is usually bored. All too often, I miss the wonder and the opportunities all around me and stare at my shoes. Yeah, way too often I relate to Milo.

But I think my favorite character in the book is Alec Bings, who sees through things. In the Forest of Sight, Milo meets Alec - he stands about three feet in the air, which puts his feet right about Milo's eye level. In Alec's family, everyone is born with their heads at the height they'll be when they grow up, and their feet grow down toward the ground. So their point of view stays the same regardless of their age.

Alas, not so for me.

My point of view, my perspective, changes almost daily. Sometimes it changes by itself, adjusting to new input. But a lot of the time, it has to be changed from the inside out. I have to mindfully, actively change how I perceive something, change how I think of it or how I see it, and work to make that change stick.

Not easy.

Changing your perspective can be tough, requiring time and attention, making the subtle and not-so-subtle turns to keep your sight toward a new direction. Perspective wants to snap back to the rut it was used to running in - it likes the path of least (or less) resistance. It really likes auto-pilot and prefers not to have its little world rocked. Perspective, or point of view, is fond of the big comfy chair and snacks. Getting up, moving, changing the furniture around, eating carrots instead of popcorn - these are things that perspective does not love. Being reborn does not a happy perspective make.

Well, it does - eventually.

Eventually comes in the grace of moving step to step. The slow, mindful learning and repetition that results in a symphony or poetry. And in that slow graceful progression, perspective shifts and point of view moves.

And, at any age, when our perspective shifts, we all grow up a bit.

So, for the record:

I'm not stuck - there is a purpose, but it hasn't arrived yet in my slow, mindful journey.

I haven't been shelved, forgotten or "Plutoed" - the One who in His grace brought about my rebirth is the One who will move me into place at exactly the right time.

I hear the loud cries of the urgent all around me but, with focus and concentration, I choose to listen to a calm Voice, guiding me in graceful movement.

There are things to be done, responsibilities to fulfill, obligations to keep, and I can and will do all of them - but I have to do them in the grace of moving step to step. To try and move any other way is to lose my balance.

And get hit by penguins with Nerf bats. Nobody wants that.

Alec tells Milo, "Once in a while, someone is born upside-down, with their head toward the ground and their feet pointing up. But we try to discourage that sort of thing."

"What happens to them?" Milo asks.

And Alec replies, "They grow to be giants, and walk among the stars."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When I Grow Up... Again... And Again...

No "Deus ex Machina." *** That's what the Lord said, over a year ago.

No magic rescue from on high, no new challenge or situation dropped in my lap, no suddenly happy happy world all bright and shiny, all ready for me to just step into.


Time to try, time to do. Learn to take a step in a direction, see if it leads anywhere. If so, take another step. If not, start again. Put a hand on the wheel, and steer a course. Realize that He will help with course corrections, but it's my job to find a direction. Without trying, without moving, nothing changes.

Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." 

True dat. And I'm smack dab in the middle of my "blue period."

Outside of the things practical that I must get going on - dishes, always dishes; clutter, everlasting clutter; chores, abundant chores - there is the bigger question, the one that leaves a manly guy of the male persuasion like me flapping like a fish out of water...

"So, what do you do?"


-- I type away on a little keyboard, writing sometimes "funny" and sometimes "not so much" stuff that sometimes amuses 4.78 folks at a time.

-- I play with yarn, and sometimes even make something that someone else will love and purchase and wear.

-- I mess around with music, not to the level of making it into something that would go viral somewhere (whatever that means...), but enough to justify (in my own twisted mind) the ridiculous amount of equipment and instruments my house is burdened with.

-- I sometimes do magic, tell stories, or make weird little things out of balloons.

-- I've been known to make little shiny bits out of stones and wire, but it's stalled right now. The tools are there, the books and lessons and ideas, and even some raw materials (including LOTS of stones... Some downright beautiful ones that SO need to be made into things...), but no movement - stalled.

And I wonder where the last year went... Has anything changed? Has anything been done, or am I at the same place I was over a year ago, sans income?

(Yes, Beloved - I will add sans anxiety, sans most of my binge eating, and sans frustration and depression sweeps that my meds were having difficulty keeping up with. I get that...)

Honestly, things have moved, things are different, and I'm not quite who I was even a year ago. Grace upon grace, that continues to amaze a wretch like me.

But the changes and movement I can see are so tiny that I have a hard time acknowledging that anything has happened. So much of this journey is just that - a journey, not an arrival, and it's tough to see progress.

(My beloved would be quick to remind me that the small moves, the tiny changes are the ones which have a good chance of sticking. It's the big, grandiose sweeping ones that become too much for us to keep up with and get thrown under the bus a month later.)

Mostly, I guess, I've been learning lessons...

Lesson #1 - Calbert shalt live on a budget, since failing to do so not only makes my Beloved sad, but gives me major pains in the tum-tum and the brain. Most newly-married couples get to work on this in the first few years of marriage - I waited until year 31. As is known the world over, I'm a s-l-o-w learner...

Lesson #2 - The part-time job I currently do is a dead end. I don't say that in a negative way - it's simply the way it is. It will never lead to anything, it will never grow beyond what it is, and at best it will continue exactly as it is. At worst, it'll get phased out and I'll be down to absolute zero - a.k.a. the average temperature Michigan has been at most of this month.


To pin my hopes on something magically rising up from there is absurd. It's the Lost Puppy Lesson all over again, with a heaping dash of the Cool Kids mixed in for a particularly nasty taste. It is what it is, and there is neither sadness nor bitterness in that realization - it simply is.

Lesson #3 (More of a review, actually...): No Deus ex Machina. No Divine rescue. I have to place a hand on the wheel and learn to steer.

Lovely. I'm a college grad-U-ate, and I'm still in school. *sigh* 

I know - It's a journey, not an arrival. I hate it when you remind me of the pithy phrases I just used...

So, to try and answer the question my counselor, She-Who-Knows-Much, asks after I ask, "What am I supposed to do with my life?", I ponder...

"What do I GET to do with my life?"

If I set the money concerns aside for a moment, and continue to learn how to stay on the long, slow path of living within our modest means; If I ignore my internal man voice that demands I bring in income to show my worth or at least have an occupation that won't bring confused stares when I respond to "So, what do you do?"; And, if I put aside any expectations I might lay on myself, and instead consider what my Father has placed in me, the things He gave me to turn me into a reflector of Him...

What do I GET to do?

I dunno. I wish I did. 

But, since I don't see any cue cards or golden couches dropping from the sky (Deus ex Machina style, word to yo Greek tragedy heroine...), I guess I'm going to have to figure it out.

The difference is, I have to figure it out by DOING, not by THINKING. I sit, I ponder, and nothing happens. I do, I try, and even if it's wrong, at least I learned something along the journey.

And that's what it is - a journey, not an arrival - "Inspiration comes, but it has to find you working." Thank you, Picasso... I think.

I'm here, Lord. I'm typing. I'm trying. Correct my course, guide my steps, and teach me.

I'm here. I'm moving.

*** Deus ex Machina - "god out of the machine"

"A deus ex machina (plural: dei ex machina) is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object."
(Source: Wikipedia)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: So Long and Not So Long Ago...

L-R, ignoring the random bass player on the left, David, Lee, Dr. John & Doug -
the Mighty Righteous Porch Pickers

So, tonight is one of those good nights. I get to spend an evening with these guys, playing some of that good ol' gospel music, and raising funds for Humanity for Prisoners, a very worthy cause. And as if that weren't enough, it's also an evening to hang out with four of my favorite musicians on the planet, which is sweet fellowship indeed.

And it puts me in mind of how many musicians have been a part of my life, before my ReBirth and after...

Dr. John has been in my life for many, many years... frankly, I find it amazing that people have put up with me for that long. But he is a doctor, after all, with a lot of...

wait for it...

PATIENTS!!!! Har har har hee hee hee ho ho ho *snort* woo!

I've been in Jeremy's band for a long time also, including a couple of gigs at Festival...

Where, for some reason, I decided one year that red shirt, white pants, and red HAIR was the look for a rotund bass player. *shudder*

Roger and Greg have been longtime friends as well, and it's always a treat to gig with them.

Music has been the thing that carried me through all the years before my ReBirth - I'm not sure what I would have done without it. And, obviously, that's kind of what God had in mind when he put me together... musical skills to carry me through until my body could carry me as well.

So when these guys and I get together tonight to get our gospel on...

I'm thankful for friends who have waited patiently over the years...

For something that none of us knew was coming, but always hoped that it might...

A body that can now keep up with the music inside.

And yes, the quirky sense of humor and lack of fashion sense remain. (To be fair though, the clown makeup wasn't my idea. I was dared into it. I won't name names here... the guilty party is wearing red... And antlers... And a dress... But no names.)

See you tonight, oh Mighty Righteous Porch Pickers!

Thankfully yours, Cal

Tune in next time to hear BekaV say...

("Of course I'm speechless - I'm a DOG, you dufus! Sheeesh...")

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Stainless Steel Bowls

It's a little surprising to me how much of my childhood is wrapped up in stainless steel.

How's THAT for an interesting sentence to start with? Makes my toes tingle just having written it. *woo*

Now, those of you who recall that my grandmother owned a restaurant for 28 years won't be startled by that sentence - you know that a lot of my growing up years were spent around that restaurant, so needless to say the tools and equipment of that place are as much a part of my childhood memories as, say, a beloved stuffed animal...

Like Bun...

The purple bunny...

Whose ears were long gone...

And whose white muzzle was pretty much grey and grody...

And whose whiskers were only a distant memory, if they every really existed at all...

And who had seen more hard action and battles than many a warrior...



sniff sniff sniff... *honk*

All better. That's why I always carry a clean hankie. Or at least, one that starts the day clean...


Those of you that didn't recall or know about the whole restaurant thing, well, you do now. So on we go.

A lot of my young life, then, involved being surrounded by stainless steel bowls, many pans, a big ol' meat slicer (that we weren't even allowed to stand near, let alone touch...), a walk in freezer and cooler (in which I received some fairly grisly threats, and rightly so, since I'd do my best to try and hide in the freezer on a hot summer day. But it felt SOOOO good. Really.), and big ol' ovens that said Viking on the front in silver letters.

I still get a little misty-eyed when I see one of those ovens someplace, like when I visit a church and they have one of those puppies in their kitchen.

Metal prep tables, fryers, a steam table, and the flat-top grill, all a part of childhood for me.

Including knowing how to clean a lot of them, and what a really messy job it was. Especially the fryer - yerch. Messy messy messy.

I remember the first microwaves - instant baked potatoes! Pizza! It'd be nasty by today's standards, but in that day it was amazing!

And, last but not least painful, the big, old, HOT dishwasher.

Manual dishwasher. VERY manual dishwasher. Totally.

Put the dishes in a basket. Lift the basket into the wash tank (filled with runoff from the lake of fire), set the cover on, turn on the washer, turn OFF the washer BEFORE taking off the cover (yes, I did have to remind myself of that step a lot during one of the very, VERY few times I washed dishes at the restaurant...), lift out the scaldingly hot basket ('cause hand protection is for wimps - ain't nobody got time for that...), plunge it into the rinse tank (filled with water sufficiently hot to make Old Scratch himself say, "Ooooh... that's a little too warm for me!"), swish the basket up and down multiple times, place the basket on the draining board (whereupon the dishes would be instantly dry because of the watery inferno they've just passed through), then unload the basket while the dishes are still sufficiently hot so as to remove any fingerprints... from your hands. (Witness Protection Program got nothin' on the dishwasher...) Then take the still-semi-nuclear dishes, neatly stacked in piles heavy enough to give an Olympic weightlifter a hernia, and place them in their various locations, while dodging cooks, waitresses, and my grandmother's right hook.

I kid. I jest. I ha ha. But only about the right hook.

She was a lefty, after all. Hee hee hee *snort* woo.

No - I'm the only lefty in the bunch. Ok - I'm also a righty. I'm confused...

So, this is my childhood in a nutshell. Which explains a lot of my mental issues.

Again, I jest. A bit. And a lot. You can sort out which is which.

Anyway, the reason that all these things came rushing back is three stainless steel mixing bowls. They started life in the restaurant, came home with Grams when she and Mom built a house together and Grams retired from the restaurant, and came to us after Mom died.

They, the stainless steel bowls I mean, sat in storage for a few years, and I'd think about them once in a while when mixing something in a small, thin plastic bowl that almost buckled under the strain. But before I'd remember to go get them, life moved along.

Last year, when we really wanted to start doing some canning, I remembered the bowls and brought them home. The canning never happened, and the bowls disappeared into a pile of something, someplace.

Then, mere days ago in a fit of domestic bliss, I shoved enough clutter aside to do some cooking, recalled the bowls and how much easier my tasks would be with them, and got them out.

Two of them are quite large, the other is medium. They're still very shiny, have a few scratches, but don't really show a lot of wear for all the years they've been in action. They are heavy, solid bowls that really earn the description "Professional."

I love these bowls.

And I didn't anticipate all of the memories that would come flooding back as I washed their shiny surfaces. The things I've seen my Mom and Grams do with these bowls, the love and joy shared with food made in these bowls, the blessings passed on with things Grams would whip up and pass along to families in the church.

A whole lot of love in three steel bowls.

And, on this day, I followed in their footsteps. I made chili, one batch especially for my beloved, just the way she likes it, and one batch for my tastes, just the way I like it. And had the joy of sharing some of the chili with a dear friend who also likes chili the way I like it. Win-win.

I made a no-bake cheesecake, similar to something I remember my mom making, in one of the bowls that she probably mixed hers in. Then I took something I first encountered with my beloved's family, seasoned oyster crackers, and made them in the bowls from my family. And we took the cheesecake and some of the crackers to a friend's house and shared them.

Mom and Grams would have loved it - the sharing, the fellowship, the joy.

(They would have loved the crackers too, even with my own little additions like toasted sesame oil and garlic-infused oil and such.)

Because just as Grams did wonderful things with those bowls, food made with love to be shared, Mom also did wonderful things with the bowls.

And I will too.

Hopefully someday one of our nieces or nephews will receive these bowls, and though the memories I have won't travel along with them, I hope that the love does, and that it continues...

'cause there's a lot of love in those three steel bowls.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Funny Friday / Silly Saturday: The Proofreader's Dream

Herself, my beloved Proofreader, has decided that enough is enough.

It's the inevitable conflict one might expect when the black and white world of accurate data meets the warm and fuzzy world of comedic license. 

At the top of my blog page is my little byline - "Sharing the Fluffy Goodness, 3.78 readers at a time..." That little attempt at self-deprecating humor makes me smile and keeps me humble. It's a reminder that the Lord has told me again and again that it doesn't matter how many (or how few) read these words, as long as I do my job, show up, and write. The writing is for me... if He chooses to use it in other's lives, that's His business, and hands off, Calbert.


The Proofreader, who lives for balanced books, accurate scales, and code that plays like a symphony from on high, is not so easily amused...

FIRST, she gets tired of hearing me mope (in my low moments, I freely admit) that "Nobody reads this poopy, so why do I even bother to write? Why do I waste my time?"

(Those are in the form of questions, which may be my first mistake, since Herself has an almost Pavlovian reaction to questions... if a question is asked, there MUST be an answer. And now that her attention has been drawn to a question, she kicks into Curious George mode and desires to know the answer, if for no other reason than curiosity. And, by all that is semi-translucent and purple, she WILL know that answer.)


So, in order to silence the moping, she'd like to fire off the number of people who actually read this, and say to me, "See? SEE? People READ this. Now stuff a sock in it, and get your saggy hiney out there and WRITE!!"

SECOND, as I mentioned above, she lives in a world of balanced books, accurate scales, and code that plays like a symphony from on high.

Which means that my weak attempt at humor,  "Sharing the Fluffy Goodness, 3.78 readers at a time..." does in fact bring a little angst to her orderly world, since the number must be way, W-A-A-Y higher than that, and although she does have a sense of humor, it doesn't kick in where facts and figures are concerned.

(She's proofreading this, and almost twitching with the need to explain that last in a more realistic, factual way, rather than the one-sided and twisted way her beloved is portraying her.)

(Tough. My blog, my rules, he said with abundant love and smiles...)

SO, in the interest of marital harmony, as well as making some small effort in the arena of accuracy, (And I have trouble even typing the word "accuracy" in this blog with a straight face...) and to acknowledge that we did pick up another subscriber along the way in the last couple of weeks, I hereby roll out the NEW byline... Enjoy!

Sharing The Fluffy Goodness, 4.78 Readers at a Time...

There. The Deep Magic AND The Proofreader are appeased. All is well in Narnia. *whew*

Heaven help me if she ever finds out where the actual numbers of page views, etc. are stored. I'll never hear the end of it...


Nothing, honey... just muttering to myself. You know... how I always do... every day... all the time... out loud... *hee hee hee*

Tune in next time to hear BekaV say...

"I heard that. Now, let's talk about what my silence will cost you - I accept all forms of doggie bacon strips. Let the negotiations begin..."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fearfully & Wonderfully...

We are image bearers.

Spend any time at the front of the Bible, and you'll run smack dab into that fact. The whole "Let us make man in our own image..." thing.

(And yes, it's more of a 'let us make "personages" in our own image' thing. Sorry, ladies - I tend to misquote Scripture from the vague memories of whatever translation I first heard the passage in, and commence the mangling from there. All ye persons, male and female, are image bearers. So there.)

Imago Dei = Image of God

(And, just to prove that I do actually do some research for this here blog thingie, I have now officially learned that I've been misspelling and mispronouncing that Latin phrase for a long time now.


Ah well. I consider myself corrected, and remember that any day I learn something new is a good day.


If you do the Wikipedia thing, you'll find some informative words that will enlighten you, on many levels and in numerous directions, as to what all sorts of smart people think Imago Dei means.

Or, we can go right to the Calberti school of "mangle, process, puree, and ponder," thus throwing my malformed and much-abused oar into the murky lake of academic pontification.

Wasn't even a doubt which way my wind is blowing, eh?


The bitter truth is, I really don't intend to deal with what Imago Dei means... I'm going from a different angle here, and might as well get right to my twisted window on the world, instead of pretending that I have some illumination to add to the world of meaning.

'cause that's how I roll.

Here, then, is where the phrase Imago Dei is shaking my tree these days - if God, the Infinite Creator, is so complex in all His ways, in all His thoughts, and in all His being, why would we expect humans, bearers of His image, to be simple? Uncomplicated? Non-complex?

In all of our wondrous imaginings, our boundless creativity, our capacity to come up with new and different and amazing, we are complex, like the One whose image we bear.

In all of our darkness, our loneliness, our failings, our struggles, and the depths of horrors we generate from our own minds, we are complex, examples of the Image bent and twisted in a broken world.

We are complicated creatures, because we bear the image of One who is complicated, multi-layered, and is Himself that image made real and perfect.

Allow me to elucidate with a possibly personal example...

A personbeing needs to lose weight.

Personbeing #2, in all the helpful spirit of the friends of Job, repeats the oft-heard and usually-useless phrase: "Just eat less and exercise more. That's it."

Which leaves personbeing #1 twisting in the wind, cursing their lack of discipline and self-control, since if that's the magic formula to rid themselves of this accursed weight, they just don't seem capable of it.

As it turns out, the weight is only one layer...

Hiding underneath, an addictive personality, currently latched on to food...

Which was nurtured by a lonely childhood...

And many lessons and skills never truly learned in adolescence...

Mixed with depression...

Tendencies toward ADD and OCD...

And bipolar disorder.

When the first layer was removed, the others came to light. And need to be dealt with layer by layer. No magic phrase or tool to move this personbeing into happy-happy land - just long, slow, hard work, dealing with each new layer as it's revealed, and trying to make progress on all the other layers discovered so far.

If I was just........, then I'd be happy.

If I was a more faithful Jesus follower, I'd have victory over......

If I wasn't so weak, I'd stop doing......

I'm a miserable person, since I keep......

I'm not the husband/wife/father/mother/friend/etc. that I should be, so I'm constantly disappointing......

Were the previous thoughts and questions autobiographical? Um... Could be. 

Or, could be true for any one of us.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and bear the image of our wonderful and complex Creator.

We are fearfully and tragically broken in this fallen world, and bear the results of that brokenness on many levels and in many layers.

In exploring the wonders of our imaginations, our dreams, our passions, our loves, we see the magnificence of Imago Dei.

In plumbing the depths of our darkness, our despair, our fears, our regrets, we see the sadness of our brokenness.

In either direction, light or dark, we are complex creatures. There are no simple answers - either in the heights of wonder, or the depths of despair.

So, personbeing, if you find yourself in light or in darkness, your Father, whose image you bear, loves you. Every complex layer, every amazing dream, every broken moment. He extends to you what we must extend to ourselves and others...






There are no simple answers. But there is infinite love from the Father, the Creator, the One who gifted us with Imago Dei.

And that makes all the difference.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

While we wait...

Oi... First the holidays, then two snow days in a row, leave Calbert a little "off."

(Yes, I know "off" really should be somewhere on my coat of arms, or at least in a description of where I reside most of the time... But I mean "off-er" than my usual state of off - more than the normal "slightly off yet whimsical" state I normally exist in.)

So while I try and get this big ol' wheel to keep on TOININ'... (And if you don't pronounce it like that, you've never really listened to "Proud Mary" by CCR, and you are officially dead to me.)

(Although if you get the phrase "We never do anything nice... and easy. We do it nice... and ROUGH!" then you are restored to fellowship with the Calbert. Congrats!)

(Ike & Tina Turner - "Proud Mary." Go look it up... Make sure you hear the whole intro, where she talks. Whomp - there it is.)

(Did I ever tell you that I once auditioned to play bass for a trio that played at wedding receptions, and the audition consisted of one, and only one, song?) 

(Yes, I got in because I could play "Proud Mary." High standards indeed.)

(Not that "Proud Mary" is a particularly easy chart - especially when you're doing it in the Ike & Tina Turner vibe, and not the CCR vibe... but the whole audition was one chart. One. Evidently the summit and range of your proficiency on ANY instrument can be measured in the playing of "Proud Mary.")

(I wish more college jury panels knew this... You could just play "Proud Mary" for every one of your juries, and you'd get your performance degree with a lot less strain... and practice... and having to learn solo literature for the tuba that you truly despise...)

See what I mean? "Off..."

So, while I try and get this big ol' wheel to keep on TOININ', I'll share an amusing picture of Beka...

You're welcome. See you next week.

(Wanders off, humming wicked horn licks from "Proud Mary")

(The Ike & Tina Turner version) 

(Because the CCR version don't NEED no stinkin' horn licks...)

(But they're still cool, and I'm still humming them...)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Throwback Thursday - From The Advent Writings: Postlude

Christmas in da U.P. Yah, ya betcha. Uff Da!
These words were written in 2011, as I tried to make sense of another Christmas season, and they still ring true for the season of life I find myself in today, starting into 2014. I still struggle to find meaning in Advent, I still wander and flail and misstep on this journey from who I was to ReBorn. But if we take anything away from another Advent, I hope and pray it's thoughts like these...

It's never too late for hope. God's patience is infinite, and so is His love. And if we keep seeking, keep moving, keep trying, there's no such thing as "over" in this journey of faith. Blessings all the year long, dearhearts.

Behold, the new year rises.

Yay. Woo hoo. *insert sound of party horn here*

*insert sound of Cal coughing up a furball here*

*insert sound of literally twos of mouses clicking on various bookmarks*

These last couple of weeks of 2011 have kicked my formerly huge hiney. (Now it's more like my formerly huge now smaller but saggy hiney. Mental imagery to give you nightmares - that's why I'm here.) Frankly, things feel like they haven't moved or changed at all this last month.

When I began The Advent Writings, they were a way to try and sort out the season, to find some answers to deep feelings not just about the season, but about my walk and faith in general. I wanted to see what would happen as I pushed myself to write more frequently - daily if possible, but certainly much more frequently than my normal habit of once an age. (Or twice, if things were particularly weird) In the course of this 'experiment' (for lack of a better term), the Lord once again reminded me of why I am compelled to write - to journal my story, to document the journey, to raise the stones and remember, and to use these words to clear some of the fog in my mind that would keep me bound in the  darkness.

Does that sound selfish? Wasn't there way w-a-y too much "I Me My Mine I MeMeMe" in that last paragraph? Shouldn't I be saying something about encouraging others or edifying others, or at least desiring "world peace?"

(shout out to fans of Miss Congeniality 1 - Sandra Bullock, comedy genius)

These last couple of weeks have reminded me that my "forward" gear doesn't have as much power as my "backwards" gear does. All through this month, trying to mindfully approach Christmas from a new perspective, I've been making some good steps. I've been learning things about my journey, I've been seeing how to walk in a new way, and I've been marveling in where God is bringing me in my second life. There have been moments to laugh, moments to be astonished, and moments to hang my head in shame.

And then, wham. It's like playing a living game of Snakes and Ladders (or as it's known in kiddie game world, Chutes & Ladders) - you're moving along, maybe taking a ladder up, making progress... then you hit one of those pickin' snakes, and you crash all the way back to where you started.

I hate that game. Seriously.

"Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?"

(Harrison Ford, comedy genius!)

"Laugh it up, fuzzball."

(See? Comedy genius!)

In the last couple of weeks, it seems like all the learning, all the growing went right down the biffy on the express train to the set of Dirty Jobs. It got flushed. Step, slip, down the stinkin' snake, back to square one, start all over. In the parlance of the Uglies series, it's not very happy-making. In fact, in the parlance of the Cal, it's very, very Grrrr-making.

You'd think I'd at least be able to grab some traction, to not fall as far, to slow my decent, or even hit the ground running and climbing. Nope. *wham!* Hit the floor (or whatever the heck it was that I just landed on - I really don't want to know), gasp for air, stagger back to my feet, then look around, blinking and dazed, wondering where I am and how I got here. I don't even recognize the scenery, which is kind of weird since I was just here not that long ago, last time the dumb snake dumped me on the express train down.

I really, really hate that game.

And now, for the light at the end of the snake... um, tunnel.

(Captain Cal, comedy dufus!)

Because God is faithful, and because He knows that we're slip-slidin' away (to quote the Bard, thankye Mr. Simon), He tells us to raise the stones. He tells us to put markers along the way to remind us of where He has brought us and where He is taking us. I guess I always thought of them as memorial stones or signposts - kind of like the "Somewhere In Time" spot on Mackinac Island.

("RIIIICCHHHHAAAARRRDDDD!!!" Jane Seymour, comedy genius and Medicine Woman!)

I never thought of the stones as hand and food holds. Kind of like the things on a climbing wall that you grab and cling on to as you keep going up. Unless you're a certified GirlyMan like me, and have never ever climbed or even been near a climbing wall, but have been the subject of much laughter and derision during gym class when the teacher said, "Olson - climb the rope!"

(My gym teacher - comedy genius and torturer du jour all rolled into one manly bundle!)

Last night, after another rough slide downward, I realized that I haven't 1) listened to the Daily Audio Bible in 4 days, and 2) haven't written in a week. Not for dumb reasons, just because my attention needed to be in other directions. Mostly, helping my wife clean out a storage thingie we've been paying rent on for about 12 years.

12 years of paying folks for the privilege of storing CRAP. Talk about a stinkin' snake...

Anyway, after the distractions, the good, right and valid distractions, I had no handholds, and somewhere along the way had changed into my silicone bodysuit, making me very slippery and taking my wind resistance down to nil.

** I pause to allow the mental image of me in a silicone body suit to plant itself firmly in your psyche, to assault your dreams in a disturbing manner. Don't thank me - it's my job. **

So, onto the snake I go, sliding down, getting ready for the inevitable crash into the unmentionable at the bottom...

And I slow to a gentle stop.

Why? Because God says, "open MacJournal, read what you've written there, toss out hands and feet, and grab some traction. You've raised the stones, now look at them, read them, USE them."

(In 2011, it was clearing out the storage area that took my time and attention. 2012, it was my 20 hour a week retail gig, and having it end. This year, I've been trying to finally understand and deal with both my physical and mental balances...)

So what are the stones, and why do I need them? They become handholds and footholds to stop the slide. Traction to fight the downward fall. Rubber grippers for snakeback.

"BWAAH HAAH HAAH! Take that, stinkin' snake!"

"Hold on, little superstar - remember that whole pride-fall thing..."

"Right. Sorry."

Now, I'm not back where I was. I have some climbing to do. But I'm not at the bottom either, up to my nose in... um... Nope, not gonna say it. I didn't hit the bottom, and I'm on my feet, climbing. And maybe, just maybe I'll make it a little farther before the next slide. Maybe, just maybe I'll catch myself faster on the way down, and not slide as far. Perhaps, just perhaps I'll stay on my feet, get back to climbing, and make it farther yet. And hopefully, definitely hopefully, I'll remember sooner to use my handholds and footholds. Or clip a safety line to my Partner so He can help break my fall.

Maybe I'll get up the rope after all, and show my gym teacher my turbo-moon happy dance from the gym ceiling.

"Ahem... pride? Fall?"

"Right. Sorry. No turbo-mooning, right?"

"Definitely not."