Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Prodigal blogger returns with randomness

I guess I'm not even sure when I blogged last. August 29th isn't that bad, I guess.

I had some random pictures to share so I thought I'd blog.

Snow has returned to the mountains. In fact 3 or 4 ski resorts have already opened. Crazy. (What's crazier, to me, is that people were still skiing in places when I moved to Colorado in late June/early July)

I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do for winter exercise once the snow starts flying. I don't think I'm diehard enough to lace up the running shoes when the temps dip below 40. Maybe not even when they are more regularly below 50. My lungs burn with the cold.

I was out last night, though, and was running with Mat Kearney pumping through my headphones when I heard a squeaking noise. It was dusk and I wasn't in coyote territory, and regardless, it wasn't really a coyote-type sound. (I've had that experience, the coyote growl... and it's not very good/fun to hear)

It was this... actually about 3 of them within 10 feet of each other.

I was surprised I could even hear it squeaking with my headphones in. Weirdness.
And finally, most of my omelet-making adventures have simply been round-about excursions in making, finally, scrambled eggs. I finally did some 'research' on YouTube and realized that I misunderstood the technique and the need for oil and/or butter to extricate the omelet from the pan.

So, armed with my new education, I went to work. 3 smashed eggs, ham, cheese and some heat later, I produced this...

 It was under-seasoned at first, but I was satisfied with the overall outcome and ready to continue to experiment and perfect the art.

Old dog, new tricks, full stomach.

Bring on the college football!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Wonders of Technology...

I've had the chance to Skype with all my immediate family in the last couple weeks. It's obviously not as ideal as being with them, but helps bridge the gap. I got to talk to 'the nieces' tonight.

Bailey tried a series of submission holds on Daddy.

Bailey also did a little choreographed 'peek-a-boo,' turning away and then adding a turn and tilt for the camera. Pretty advanced moves for almost 9 months.
 Eyla tried to hide but doesn't know my superior Skype-aided 'hide-n-seek' skills. She didn't have a chance.

Mommy even got the heads-up via cell phone that her favorite brother-in-law was 'in the house.'

(Even if there was something like Skype when I was her age, I would have broken my little finger in a rotary phone dial trying to call someone to tell them about it. )

Yep... thankful for modern and visual ways to span the distance.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cure for depression...

I remember reading Rich Mullins' biography (one of my favorites) 5-6 years ago. A couple things stuck out to me... and these are rough paraphrases, mind you.

1) Rich said he didn't worry about eating stuff like french fries b/c God would take him, whenever He saw fit, whether he ate healthy or not. ( And God did take him, a la Keith Green-another great biography- suddenly and without warning)

I use this as fascetious response to 'detractors' of fast-food diets

2) Rich talked about dealing with depression at different points in his life. And one of the best remedies for depression, he shared, was to get outside, take a walk around the block, and be reminded of how big the trees are, and how much bigger the world is than our problems, and, consequently, how much bigger God is.

So... I've been living under some storm clouds since last Thursday. It's a classic example of things not going as I had hoped or planned, and the result was a derailment of my mental and emotional focus.

So... I needed some 'elevation therapy'  and perspective, and so I went hiking...

The mountains have a way of putting me ( and my worries) in perspective. And for those moments when I doubt moving from seeming stability to (at least perceived/felt) instability, they are part of a series of reminders that I'm where I need to be right now.

And I found a good place to journal some thoughts on the back end of 6 miles of hiking...

and then...
I went to church, and the pastor miraculously 'preached right at me' and reminded me to get over myself and get busy doing what God wants me to do for His kingdom. And, in that, I'll find joy and purpose.

And, for the third week in a row, we sang a song with some reference to Psalm 121 ( "I lift my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth...)

And I just smiled and shook my head, and realized that I can't escape.

And I'm glad that I can't.

And I'll probably need reminders of all this stuff tomorrow, or next week. And I'm learning that God is good at reminding, whether I/we like it or not.

And I'm thankful, in my instability, that the mountains are so close to remind me where my Help is found.

And if I start one more sentence with the word, "And," I realize that I'll lose all the good-will of my blog readership...

(And) so, I'll stop...  and encourage you to eat french fries (everything in moderation, right?) and take a walk outside.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The craziest lunch ever...

What is big, white, and goes, "crunch, splash"  ????

The answer...

A big sedan, driven by a lady into the ornamental pond near the office building where I am working.

I was eating lunch at an outdoor picnic table when I heard a loud crunch. I figured it was some construction guys working on a parking lot nearby. Whatever the noise was made me jump.

As I turned to see what the noise was, I saw a car slowly rolling down the bank and into a pond outside the office building. (you don't see that every day) It floated to the middle and then started to sink.  I jumped up instantly in surprise, unsure of what to do. I started toward the pond, scared out of my wits. But seeing some guys closer, and starting to take action to help the driver, I ran back to the picnic table to get my phone and call 911.

My adrenaline was pumping pretty hard as I wondered what would happen if the lady had a seizure or heart attack and was helpless to get out of a sinking car. One of the guys waded in to help her, and we finally saw her moving around. I nervously relayed the information to the dispatcher even as the 'wader' opened the door and helped the lady to shore. (thankfully, the pond was only 3-4 feet deep). The dispatcher lady even seemed a little incredulous.

Without knowing for sure, I think the lady was pulling across a couple lanes of traffic, needed to punch it (busy lunch drivers abound), and probably had the accelerator stick. Her car jumped the curb, struck a tree (the loud crunch) and then proceeded slowly down the bank and into the water. 

Anyway... I won the award for best 'lunch story' and the entire office building took turns going out to see the craziness.

Some of the responses of the eventual spectators were less than kind, sadly. Even as crazy as it was, many joked about how dumb the lady must have been. I actually felt bad for having told anyone what was going on. Obviously, they would have found out, but their responses were hateful. I felt sorry for her. I can't imagine the embarrassment, let alone the trauma of being in a car submerging in water.

I'm hoping for less 'exciting' lunches from here on out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not sure how I forgot this...

My previous post and listing of new discoveries should have included this magic elixir.

Talk about being tempting to use hyperbole... I use this stuff on about anything. It's especially good with tuna, quesadillas, eggs, or the source of my inspiration and discovery- Chipotle burritos.

In the absence of 'Welcome Wagon'...

It's been awhile since I've moved to a new city.

I remember, many years ago, when our family moved to Elkhart, IN,  a woman came to our house with a basket of goodies and info about our new town. She was part of a group helping to assimilate people into their new surroundings as quickly and smoothly as possible. I'm not sure how she found out we were there. I think, nowadays, that would be sort of creepy and disconcerting.

Being new to Denver, I haven't had a specific or official 'welcome wagon' lady come to my door (thankfully) but I have had trusted and good friends, as well as new ones, help make my transition as smooth as possible. I've been here over a month now, and am continuing to settle in. I'm thankful for a new beginning, and many prayerful and caring supporters to walk with me through the new-ness.

I've made some cool discoveries (and had needed reminders) in my time here... some that may be applicable or usable for others, some that may be appreciated only by me. But, for the sake of 'paying forward' the blessings I've received, I share them with you, in no particular order.

1. Prescription sunglasses- I've learned that the sunlight of high-elevation cities is intense and blinding. I recently purchased a pair of prescription eye protection and have loved having them, especially when I don't have to wear contacts all-day, every day.

2. Endomondo - I'm not even sure where I found this application, but it's revolutionizing my exercise/running routine (And causing hyperbolic praise to issue from my fingertips). Endomondo is one of several exercise tracking software programs that allow you to track your exercise route and monitor your speed-distance-calorie burn. It's fairly easy to use, and a free app on most smart phones.
Another feature that I like is that it tracks what music you are listening to on each point of your exercise route. That's not a necessary feature, obviously, but it's intriguing to me.

3. Biking/running/hiking trails - I am a few hundred yards from arteries of trails, both paved and natural, that wind their way all over this area, and even into the foothills. I have run more, and more regularly, than I have in several years. Thanks to said trails, and the encouragement of Endomondo, drinking more water (less pop), volleyball, eating out less, and the stress and uncertainty of a new place, I have lost almost 15 lbs.

4. Larkburger - Seared Ahi Tuna burger... I need say no more.

5. Blind Pilot - I was able to attend the recent Solshine Music Festival in Winter Park and was introduced to a band that I really like the sound of. They have a great mix of instrumentation, great harmonies, and a laid-back and easy sound to enjoy as you are lounging in the mountains.

6. Redrocks Church - I'm sure you've had this experience- you sit down in a church service and you hear a song and/or sermon that communicate 1) that you need to be there, and 2) God knows where you're at and what you need to hear/internalize/apply. The "I am Second" series has been exactly that for me. I've been able to attend 3 out of 4 weeks of this series, and made a point to listen to the fourth week online.

7. Volleyball in Wash Park - I'm learning that Denver is an 'outdoor activity' town. Granted, Denverites don't deal with 110* temps like Wichita, but everyone is outside running, biking, frisbee-ing, or just sitting and reading. I've been graciously included in a group that play volleyball outside every Sunday afternoon. It's even how I spent my 4th of July. I love it. Great fellowship-great exercise-great fun.

8. D'Deli (Golden, CO)- Recommended by friends, and finally enjoyed with some different friends, this little deli offers a wide spectrum of sandwich combinations and flavors. My friend Randy and I split halves on these two sandwiches, pictured below:
  • Maui Waui: Ham, Bacon, Cream Cheese, Pineapple, Lettuce, Tomato, Jalapeno, Teriyaki Glaze. 
  • Jackwaggon:Peanut Butter, Jelly, Honey, Sriracha Hot Sauce, Bacon, Fried Onions, Sun Flower Seeds, Pineapple, Jalapenos, Banana Peppers.

9. Trendy Glasses - There's a new advertising campaign (for Eyeglass World, or something) that I saw earlier this summer on t.v. in the Wichita area. A girl is talking about how she has her work glasses, and then her glasses that make people notice her. I got my eyes checked before my big move, and thankfully discovered that my prescription had not changed. However, after two years of outdoor work, I needed some new and 'less grungy' glasses.
Here's my new 'look at me' specs: (and a close up of my facial pores and bloodshot eyes)

10. Jehovah Jireh - This whole transition thing is a huge leap of faith for me. I realize, even when others have graciously held back from saying it, that it's not very wise (from a human perspective) to move to a new place without a job nailed down, or a place to live, or... other 'necessary' things. But, I am living proof that God has and is providing. That said, I have my moments and days of anxiety and questions and impatience. But I can't get away from the fact that at strategic times, in clear ways, God has provided people, housing, finances, food, and even a timely song or sermon or reminder from Scripture... 'Do not worry... your Heavenly Father knows that you need them... But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.' (Matt 6)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pillar of Fire

 Today, I had moments of feeling like this...

(Staring over the edge of a 400 ft drop to the Zambezi River, preparing to jump)

I don't know that I've ever been so scared in my life, as that day in Zambia. It was a surreal moment of numb obedience and thoughts that ran something like: 'what am I doing?'

And, on the edge of a different, yet significant 'leap,' I wouldn't say I'm scared, but I would admit a good deal of anxiety. And I've had some of the same 'what am I doing?' thoughts racing through my head.

I leave for Denver tomorrow with a lot more unknowns than knowns, it seems. I finally took a jog tonight to clear my head, and enjoyed a timely infusion of truth from one of my favorite theologians and musical counselors.
Canaan Bound (click to listen)

Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan bound
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron's hills are amber crowned
So bid your troubled heart be still
The grass, they say, is soft and green
The trees are tall and honey-filled
So, Sarah, come and walk with me
Like the stars across the heavens flung
Like water in the desert sprung
Like the grains of sand, our many sons
Oh, Sarah, fair and barren one
Come to Canaan, come
I trembled at the voice of God
A voice of love and thunder deep
With love He means to save us all
And Love has chosen you and me
Long after we are dead and gone
A thousand years our tale be sung
How faith compelled and bore us on
How barren Sarah bore a son
So come to Canaan, come
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron's hills are amber crowned
Oh, Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan Bound

Pillar of Fire (no audio available, sorry)
There, in the distance--a pillar of fire
Rumbling like thunder in a dream
It roars among the pines along the lines
Of the great Mississippi

It scatters all the cattle, and rattles the trees

It skids across the prairie by the moon
It sings like a choir, this pillar of fire
And the name of God is the burning tune

I can see it whirling, swirling,

Spinning all around
Upward, onward, homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, lead me through the night,
Pillar of Fire

On through the passes of the mountains it goes

As bouldered and broken as my heart
I shiver and cry and I watch as it winds
To the deepest and the darkest parts

I can see it whirling, swirling,
Spinning all around
Now upward, onward, now homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, hold me through the night,
Pillar of Fire
Where, Oh Lord, are you leading?
I can get so scared in the night
My feet are cut and bleeding
With every step I feel less alive

Oh, but Pillar of Fire, you blazed this trail

You've been there every step along the road
From a barn in Bethlehem to Hell and back again
You blazed the trail that leads me home

I can see it whirling, swirling,

Spinning all around
Now upward, onward, now homeward bound
Oh, Jesus, hold me through the night,
Pillar of Fire

On to the ocean I follow it down

Where it sizzles and boils in the waves along the sound
Oh, Jesus, lead me to your shore
Pillar of Fire


I was also encouraged by a good dose of Isaiah today...

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you;
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

13 For I am the LORD your God
   who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
   I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
   little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
   new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
   and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
   and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the LORD
   and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

and finally... my favorite...
Isaiah 40:25-31
25 “To whom will you compare me?
   Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
   Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
   and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
   not one of them is missing.
 27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
   Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
   my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint. 

Back to the bridge in Zambia...I can not describe to you the feeling of relief and exhilaration when you feel the bungee pull tight and throw you back into the air. All my nervous fear was erased seconds after jumping. (the 5 second free-fall did SEEM like an eternity, though)

I'm looking forward to writing the blog post equivalent of that exhilarating and thankful relief in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. I'm looking forward to adding cool stories to my autobiography. 

But, first, I need to pack.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Journey enters new territory...

I have recently returned from an almost 2-week trip, hitting 3 new states that I've never been to before...Washington, Montana, and Wyoming, and a quick and circuitous route through British Columbia and Alberta. And being that they are 3 of the most beautiful states and 2 of the most picturesque provinces that I've ever seen, I'm wondering why I hadn't visited them earlier.

While I flew from Denver to Spokane on the second leg of the trip, my friend's car notched 3700 miles by trips end. Yep... lots of territory covered, many pictures taken, and unforgettable memories made. Some of my favorite pictures are below. 

The initial reason for my trip was officiating a wedding in Spokane. 

The groom's family and male side of the wedding party got to stay in a cool log chalet up near Mt. Spokane. It was an amazing first exposure to Washington for me, complete with a moose sighting the last night.

From Spokane, I went to Seattle (another first) and enjoyed a few days in a beautiful city. I enjoyed it with some of my best Kansas friends and their daughter.

The stereotypical rain of the northwest finally showed itself on our trip from Seattle to Vancouver. We didn't spend as much time seeing the sights due to a soaking, cold downpour, but did enjoy a Japanese Isakaya dining experience at a 'community table' with a french couple from Quebec City, an Australian 'casanova' trying to wine-and-dine a Japanese college student, and another couple who never said a word to us. No pictures were taken, unfortunately, but the conversation was good for international relations.

The 12-hr trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise was an exhausting and, again, rain and snow-soaked experience. And while Lake Louise was still fairly ice-covered, I enjoyed the opportunity to see an area famous for its beauty. Here's a couple pics from along the way...

After a quick trip through Banff, Calgary and into Montana, we hit some of the most ruggedly beautiful country, and my favorite of the trip.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks deserved more time than we were able to give them, but even a day was enough to give a good taste of some amazing territory. We saw a lot of wildlife, and I am now a big fan of the Tetons. (someone told me last night that they are the most photographed mountain range in the world... that's an unconfirmed statement, but one that I don't have trouble believing after seeing them).

Jackson Hole gave us a taste of the 'wild west.' We hit it on Saturday night as the town was starting to rev up for the Memorial Day weekend. We missed the "Running of the Horses" but got a picture of the Elk Arches and enjoyed a little country band during dinner.

The final leg of the trip was a quick overnight stop through Denver. We book-ended our trip with excellent sashimi and sushi at the Sushi Den. And Little Man Ice Cream is a must-stop (please excuse the finger on my phone camera)

Great times and life-long memories...

And my personal journey enters new territory as well... details to come. All prayers for wisdom accepted and appreciated.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Random Firsts

My first guacamole-making experience...

I'll call it a success. 

My first up-close 'face to face' badger sighting...
I'll call it surreal and unexpected.

My first attempt at discharging mowed grass and dirt directly into my eye sockets...

I'll call it annoying and my latest evidence of why I hate wind in Kansas.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise...

I was attempting to cut my hair last night. It was late, and I was going to do a quick 1/4'' trim on my head and beard.

It was going swimmingly along the side of my head and I transitioned to the top. I made a couple swipes and was moving across my head from right to left. While going for a 'center cut,' a strange thing happened... what looked like the 1/4 " clipper guard ( which I knew was only my imagination) fell into the trash can with my shorn locks. The stranger part of that is that my clipper-holding hand continued it's shearing motion before I could confirm whether my imagination was, indeed, reality.

The result was all too realistic...

I never got overly angry. I think I was a little stunned.

Insert Gomer Pyle's Famous line...

Or, to quote Chevy Chase in "Christmas Vacation"...

It took me two seconds to realize that I had zero options. I was going to have to 'summer-cut' before summer. (Fortunately, I have avoided such mishaps during the bitter cold months of working outdoors)

I think I'll keep the beard long for a couple days and impersonate Jeff Bridges character from Iron Man.

What's life without surprises, right?
And, in this economy, I'm thinking about all the money I'm saving in shampoo and other hair care product. (that miniscule amount will be diverted straight to the gas pump unfortunately)

well... happy hair cut, everybody.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I smell a rat...

...and he's dead.

It's my first 'kill' as a trapper.

The muskrat wasn't too happy. He gave me the middle finger/claw.

And his dental health leaves a little to be desired.

Definitely no love from the muskrat. Captain and Tennille must have known friendlier muskrats.

My only consolation...I didn't enter trapping for the friendships.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sounding a retreat...

There's been a couple times in the last several years that I've felt overwhelmed with life enough to just need a weekend get-away to regain my sanity. The second of those couple times was two weeks ago.

And there's something about getting outside that helps set my mind and heart back on track. God seems to use nature to quiet my over-analytical mind and to remind me of the bigger scope of life. And even when my 'day job' involves outdoor time, for the most part, it's easy to lose the grander perspective and beauty of the 'forest' when you're stuck in the trees.

Some of my favorite photos of my personal retreat and outdoor 'therapy'...

 ...a baseball on the edge of the Arkansas River.

 armored possum

...somebody's semi-fine china.

I snuck up on a little spike buck. I walked a little ways, heard a sound behind me, and saw this 6-pt and about 7 others. I wasn't quick enough to snap a picture of the whole group.

I also splurged on a little peach cobbler shake from Bogey's in Hutchinson. It's as good as it sounds.

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