Friday, December 26, 2008


It was a cloud covered sky on one of the longest nights of the year. It was an overnighter that started mid-afternoon, just after our Christmas dinner.

The campground was almost completely empty. It was a little creepy, as if everyone fled from some secret danger. It was not foggy, but somehow still like being in a cloud. A blustery wind, roaring through the trees, made it seem like not only another place, but another time as well. The gray afternoon, almost perceptibly, choked out all light and the moonless, starless dark night came early.

Solitude was sought and it was found. After several hours absent of human conversation, my own thoughts rushed to fill the void. I recalled a recent conversation.

“What do you want for Christmas,” she said.

I don’t recall the precise response, but in the midst of the non-routine, hectic holiday schedule for the day, she caught me off guard. Likely, it was something like, “I don’t know. I’ll think about it.” I like to dwell on my wants.

This Christmas day overnight in the lonely woods gave plenty of opportunity for thinking.

When I somehow convinced her to marry me, I turned her life upside down. Whatever ambitious plans she had were tossed to support what became we. I can cite too many examples of how I have made her life difficult. In spite of them all, she has been faithful to me for 25 years. She follows me where I go. She encourages right action and lives a quiet, consistent example. When I am busy thinking about how to do it, she does it. She is more selfless than I and blesses me every day.

She is a gift. How silly to ask for anything more. In this dark and silent place, it is obvious what must be done. I don't need a gift, I need to be a gift to her.

But like the fuzzy shoreline across the distant gray, how is not quite clear.

Even so, I have a direction. It is time to act. Clarity will come as the goal draws near.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quiet Contentment

It was an early start. Even in the pre-dawn darkness, the wind was wide awake and at full capacity. Not in the mood for spinning pedals into those gusts, it seemed better to pack refreshments and head to the low lands. It wasn't long after arriving at the Waide Road crossing of Clear Creek that the sky started to lighten up.

The bridge at this location is barricaded at both ends, but a cyclist can squeeze by. Without vehicle traffic this area it is a lonely place on a Sunday morning. Deer running through the shallow creek, and then effortlessly up the steep bank, amazed me.

Spending some quiet time cycling down a rarely used gravel road with a thermos of my own brew, and then pausing at a nearby creekbed for a cup or two, is one way I define contentment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Melancholy Moment

The scene was surreal. On a chilly December morning, it was breakfast in a hotel restaurant. Away from home in a strange place, my attention vacuumed-in the surroundings.

There were a multitude of simultaneous activities. Out on the city street, pedestrians, bicycles, buses, and taxis went east and west. Inside the restaurant, there was normal waitstaff and self-serve buffet traffic. There were four TV screens in an area the size of a large living room.

The TV screens were muted, but furiously paced. Each of them was tuned to CNN and the images flashed rapidly like a strobe light. The news was of the current economic woes, the latest terrorist activities, and a recent political scandal. The horizontal rolling banner at the bottom of the screen displayed the latest juicy details.

Some folks ignored the screens and were intent on the conversation with their dining companions. Others focused their attention on one of the screens, trying to keep up with keeping up. Dining alone, I scanned a USA Today newspaper. One front page story told how teens and young adults are taking advantage of the latest technology to send nude photos of themselves to each other.

A traditional Christmas song played over the restaurant loud speakers. We might be nearing Christmas, but the lyrics just didn't fit. Like wearing swimming trunks to a black tie affair, they exclaimed with passion, but totally out of context...

"...Oh come let us adore Him...Christ, the Lord!"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Between Breaths

After several days of below-freezing mornings and blustery afternoons, it was as if the atmosphere had taken a deep breath, exhaled forcefully, and was at a prolonged pause before inhaling again. Saturday afternoon was sunny, above 60 degrees, and unusually windless. As prairie dwellers, we know that such warm stillness is like driving throught a small town. If you reach down to adjust the radio, you missed it. I wonder how many were inside watching the idiot box and missing it.

Fortunately for me, there were a few simple outdoor chores to be done in the morning. They began in a sharp chill, but as morning turned to afternoon, the wind layed down for a nap. It became obvious that conditions had reached an optimum.

So I grabbed a small lunch, a couple of hours, and a noodling mindset. Then I pedaled around the Clear Creek watershed and found a quiet place for a short picnic stop. I took a deep breath, the sun warmed, birds chirped, I pondered pleasant surroundings, and then exhaled...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Ride

Practically every ride for me is a blessing and a time to be thankful. There have been a couple of rides in to work lately that were especially good, but not documented with photos. The day we set aside for the primary purpose to be thankful included a slow ride in south Texas and that, my friends, fit very nicely with the occasion.

The entire weekend was outstanding in that it included reconnecting with family, good food, a break from the routine work schedule, and a relaxed schedule. We had a fairly full house down there, but we all missed having our Coastie who was on duty out in Alameda, CA. There are lots of other photos of the weekend events, but only a few from the ride will be included in this post. I think I'll save some of the others for a future occasion.

South Texas refers to "not far from Corpus Christi". We were about an hour northwest of Corpus Christi and the high temperatures were in the mid 80s. So the vegetation looked a little more tropical than in has lately back in Denton County.

Typical for these gatherings, my father-in-law and I sort through and solve all the major problems of the world and lament that no one in authority is listening. Most of the rest of the family laments that they are listening.

He is as much an aviator as I am a cyclist. He builds his own airplanes and flies them. Since he recently finished building one, I thought one last photo using a Wright brothers theme would be a good thing. They strike a nice, proud pose together, eh?

I'm thankful when they have an opportunity to be together.