An ice cream sandwich of color…..

While I was busy eating my breakfast and reading a fishing article in the recent “Field and Stream”, my wife made a comment that made me look up. She said “That is beautiful”. I looked up to realize she was referring to the impending sunrise, not me.

It was still darkish. The ground and trees still bled together in a black silouette. However, you could see the grey fog layer hovering above the pasture. Breaking through the trees was a yellowish orange band that graduated into a cyan middle layer. This was similar in color to the bright cyan ink cartridge you put into your inkjet printer. Usually it ends there with the cyan slowly blending into the dark upper part of the sky. But this morning there was a higher band of clouds that reflected back a bright pink magenta. The brilliant layering effect of multiple colors and shades was very impressive. God and nature continue to impress me.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

By the way, I didn’t post on Easter because I took it off like most other places around here. I hope it was enjoyable for you and yours.

More March madness…..

Well the UK Wildcats made it one more round last night. It wasn’t pretty but they defeated Utah to make it to the elite eight. The neighbors came over last night and we thoroughly enjoyed their company. The kids all played while the parents chatted and watched the game. It made for a late night though and I didn’t get to bed until way past my bedtime — 12:45a to be exact. I sure was tired this morning getting up for our church work Saturday. But it was a great thing for us to go and help out cleaning the church and getting it ready for Easter Sunday tomorrow. All of our kids helped in a big way too pitching in dusting, planting, vacuuming, pressure washing and sweeping. I was very proud of our family’s contribution especialy seeing as we made up one third of the work force. As a treat for the kids’ hard work, we went to Sonic for ice cream.

And then this evening, U of L made it into the Final Four! This will continue to get exciting.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Go Cards!…..

Well, the Louisville Cardinals advanced last night against the #1 seed team, the University of Washington Huskies. Aside from a short time where they did not control the speed and transition of the dogs, the Cards played their own game and slowed the pace down selecting shots, hitting threes and almost perfecting their free throws (as my old coach John Nelson used to say, “Free throws win games!”). I am slowing getting drawn into the March madness and excited for the local teams. We’ll see how the UK Wildcats do tonight against Utah. They will definitely need to step their game up. My neighbors are coming over for the late 9:40pm tip off. It should make for a nice but late evening. And I have to get up early to go to our church’s work Saturday. Our family volunteered for the annual spring cleaning before Easter. Luckily it only goes til noon and then I can get the smoker going again for Saturday’s dinner.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Walk softly…..

Yesterday evening after dinner, my son and I took a short exploratory hike on the acreage behind our property. It is owned by someone in Florida and unimproved. I had heard from one of the neighbors that there is a nice pond back there and some room to explore.

We started out across a field and through some trees. For most of the way we could still see our house. We ended up being about a half mile away and lost sight of the house. I kept telling my son to walk quietly and to quit talking and maybe we’d see some wildlife. Well, Chatty Cathy finally quieted enough for us to come upon some deer in a field across a grove of trees. As he got excited and started talking again, their white tails revealed their quick escape routes. At least he got to see them. On our way back we came across a flock of ducks as well as a lone possum (out here they sometimes get referred to as pole cats). We made it through the last grove of trees and across the creek just as we lost our last light. As we came back to our property, I could barely see the black four legged figures running to greet us. The dogs missed us and had wanted to join us on our adventure but the invisible fence was doing it’s job and keeping them at home.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Communion day…..

Today was my oldest daughter’s first communion day at church. It was a very nice service. An added touch was after each child received their first communion from the pastor, they would then turn around and give communion to their family who were standing behind them in a public show of support. It was a very special gesture and it was one more of these milestones that will choke me up on her way to adulthood. I am intent on focusing on these moments because I believe that in today’s day and age, they whiz by us too fast. I would equate a child’s life to a drag race. The anticipation on the line for the arrival is enough to make you go crazy. Then the green light and the race is on. The first few hundred feet while you are still accelerating are still captured in your memory. Their first crawl, first step, first words, first day of school. Sometimes those things can’t come fast enough. Then all those moments accumulate and become compressed in time as you careen down the track of life, accelerating as you go. Finally, before you know it the race is over, you begin slowing down and you can reflect back on what you thought you saw and the little that you captured. I am trading my dragster for a moped. It doesn’t look cool and it sure isn’t fast but it will get me there and ensure I don’t miss out on the beautiful scenery.

More notes for our wondrous day — in celebration, I fired up the BBQ smoker and added some more baby back rib experience to my BBQ knowledge. They turned out very good and we had a nice celebratory meal. While tending to the smoker, I was also able to enjoy the NASCAR race (although my driver was involved in the lap #1 wreck and never recovered) and a few of the NCAA tournament games, all in hi def of course. And U of L easily defeated Georgia Tech to make it to the Sweet 16. That will make things interesting for all of those fans here in the area. And finally, I got a little dirty changing the oil in the trucks and doing some needed preventative maintenance while the kids rode the scooter in the garage and played with the dogs. When the weather turns, a priority is getting a TV in the garage because there is nothing like having a race or game on while you are out there tinkering. All in all, a nice and productive day at home with the family. The big orange ball descending through the trees topped it off. It was so beautiful I had to come inside and tell my wife to look out the window.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Sweet 16…..

Today was a day where we spent the first part of the day running errands around town and then came home and lazed around for the remainder. My oldest daughter had a meeting at church so we dropped her off there and continued taking care of all the errands “in the city”. Living out in the country, we always try to make the most of our trips into Louisville and consolidate shopping. Picking my daughter up took us to after lunch. When we got home I turned on the NCAA tournament to try and “get into the spirit” of March madness. It was kinda working as I enjoyed a part of the Utah/Okla game. Again, high definition TV made it extremely enjoyable. I was going to BBQ two chickens on the smoker but the rain made me opt for the rotisserie instead. It would mean less babysitting and hence, less me getting wet outside. Of course, once I got them going, the rain let up and it was kinda nice outside. I took a short walk out to get the mail. Very peaceful with it having just rained. I grabbed a shovel to take advantage of the wet ground and started slicing a trench where I needed to bury the dog fence wire. (see previous post here) I only got a few feet when I started chatting with my neighbor who was out working on some of his trees. This was the same neighbor I met with blood on my hands from the dog fight back when we first moved in. We ended up shootin’ the breeze for an hour. I walked back into my house and my wife said “We were looking all over for you”. She was surprised when I told her I was only 50 ft away outside.

After a nice roasted chicken dinner, we popped “The Incredibles” back in and had an impromptu makeup family movie night (see yesterday’s post). By the time the movie ended, my wife was asleep and all the kids went to bed right when I asked. I then took the opportunity to accept the afternoon’s invitation and head next door for the UK vs Cincinnati tournament game. It was nice to spend some time getting to know my neighbors and enjoying one of their favorite pasttimes. I was slowly getting into it and by the end of the game was picking up the players’ and teams’ strengths and weaknesses. CBS then switched over to the Wake Forest/W VA game that went into an exciting double overtime. I called W VA the winner if they could start making their free throws. I ended up getting home around 11:30p. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk too far to get home. It was nice to chat with them, get to know them and learn a little more about the folks in the area. It’s now way past my bedtime though.

So UK made the NCAA tournament sweet 16. I think I’ll turn on the U of L game tomorrow afternoon and get into the madness a little bit more. Hopefully they make the Sweet 16 too.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Mom and kids movie night…..

Well, we had a nice pizza dinner and topped it off with ice cream sundaes. I popped “The Incredibles” DVD in and we were about 10 minutes into family movie night when I got a call from work. Seems there was a very late, very emergency order for product to go out to a patient. So I jumped in the truck and sped to work hoping that I could get everything situated and the product out the door to the patient and back again to salvage the remainder of the night. My wife doesn’t like it but she is very understanding. It’s not like we’re shipping computer parts, peanut butter or ball bearings — this is a patient’s quality of life here and I’m lucky to work for a company that drastically has a positive impact on people’s lives. Luckily it doesn’t happen often and I was able to make it home before the movie ended. We all enjoyed the grand finale superhero fight scene together.

Say a prayer with me for the patient that needs the product early next week. While it was a small inconvenience to my Friday evening, that is miniscule compared to what they are going through. Just one more reminder to count your blessings.

…..Dan at aslowerpace

My first deer encounter…..

Part of the charm of living out here in the country is the wildlife that occasionally pops up. From deer to raccoons to wild turkeys, it is always nice to see those animals we never saw in the California concrete jungle.

Well, this morning as I drove my two lane country road to work I came around a tight corner and surprised two deer. They were very startled and it took them a second to figure out which way to escape my human intrusion into their peaceful feeding. I was worried one of them would try to cross the road in front of me and possibly get hit. I was going slow enough to have stopped but I was relieved when they both vertically levitated to clear the 4 ft high fence and took off into the woods.

I am noticing that the sun is staying up later and later now. It is light for quite a while now after I get home from work. I can’t wait until the first week in April when the time changes and it will be light even later. I took advantage of the time after dinner with it still being light out (and a comfortable 57F degrees) to play tag with the kids while the dogs provided moving obstacles. We then swung a while on the rope swing down by the creek with the kids taking turns and actually sharing (surprise!). We then went on a little hike towards the back creek and just enjoyed the quiet. Birds were out singing and moving about. It really reminded me of some of the parks and open space back in CA — however, this was all ours right outside our house. I am really getting teased by the weather pretending to offer these spring days and then snatching them back with a reality cold front.

Hurry up spring. Get here already!

On another note, we celebrated our three month anniversary here in Kentucky.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Silver lining…..

Today I had spend the day at home from work taking care of my wife. She slipped on some black ice at the post office yesterday and landed flat on her back. She described it as a “Fred Flintstone fall”. You know the kind where you land on your back. She also hit her head and was pretty banged up. Luckily, she is just in pain, no major injuries. She woke up this morning feeling “like she got run over by a truck”. She needs some rest and that’s where I come in.

I took the girls to school this morning swapping my familiar two lane country drive with a busier main drag route. My son doesn’t go to pre-school on Tues or Thurs so it was my job to occupy his time and keep him quiet so mama could get some rest. This was the silver lining part. It fit in perfectly to our new self imposed directive to a slower pace and enjoy the time with loved ones.

We played a few games together — Don’t Break the Ice and Hi Ho Cherry O — practiced his alphabet and spelling, played soccer with the dogs out back and took a short hike while getting the mail. It was nice to just spend some time with him out in the sun (even though it was only 47F) with the birds singing and dogs running around. I could have propped him in front of a DVD and worked on a project (like I have been guilty of in the old days) but it felt really good and deeply rewarding. And most importantly, it allowed my wife a break that she needed to just rest and heal up. Tomorrow she will ease back into her world of chef, taxi and mom.

Another funny observation — all the snow and ice we received Sunday night (that my wife slipped on) was gone by Monday afternoon. We also awoke Saturday morning to a white countryside which melted later that afternoon. I really like the snow here. It shows up, you get to enjoy it fall and blanket everything, play in it for a while and then it goes away. Other than the week-long snow we had a Christmas, it snows here but doesn’t hang around long.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Lesson #1…..

While the UPS tour I took earlier this week was incredible, informative and an all around good time, the most important thing I took away from the evening didn’t have anything to do about packages. In fact, it didn’t have anything to do with business at all.

Some of the people who joined us for the tour and dinner were from different sites from my company. It was a pleasure to meet them, talk about business, get to know each other’s processes and share best practices. At dinner, talk turned to family and other non-work related topics. I fielded a few questions on my family’s move out from southern California to Kentucky. My standard cookie cutter answers like a slower pace, more time with the family, back to basics, cheaper cost of living — things you have probably already read about and are familiar with throughout the history of this blog. I also shared my recent mantra “My company can get another me in a heartbeat, but my kids can’t get another dad”. That was when a fellow co-worker from one of the other sites shared a gift with me that I will never forget. It was in the form of a story.

My fellow co-worker began with,

“During one holiday period when I worked for a company that manufactured syringes and barrels, I was called in on Christmas Eve day around 11am because a piece of equipment had failed. I did not want to burden my staff with having to come in with it being Christmas Eve and all, so I tackled the problem myself.

At around 2pm I received a call from my daughter asking “Daddy, when are you coming home? It’s Christmas Eve.”

I replied, “I’ll be home soon, honey”.

Well, 2pm turned to 4pm, turned to 6pm. I received another call from my daughter.

She asked, “Daddy, it’s getting late and it’s Christmas Eve. Are you coming home soon?”

I assured her I wouldn’t be much longer.

As work goes, I didn’t get home until 11pm that night missing Christmas Eve. We did get to spend Christmas Day together but two days later she was killed in a car crash.”

My heart dropped to the floor as he continued on. He stated my mantra of “your kids can’t get another dad”, but added a corollary of “you can’t get another child“.

Qualifier: this is an interpretation of the story as told to me directly. Some of the details may not be exact but will not detract from the awesome message it conveys. He also gave me permission to share his amazing story. I thank him for his courage and strength to share his story and loss so others may gain.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net