Johnny Appleseed…..

While we didn’t get the expected storm last night or today, it did rain up until this morning. Everything is wet and the skies are grey. Although by the end of the day the sun started to take command. Tomorrow should be nicer with a spring-like week owning the greater part of the days.

I took advantage of the soft soil and lower temps to do quite a bit of planting today. I started off the morning with a red bud tree that has beautiful purple flowers and foliage in the spring. These trees stick out like purple sore thumbs in the forests of green everywhere. I then moved to the front entryway out by the mailbox. A burning bush and forsynthia on each side will give seasonal color as you come onto the property. A trip to WalMart with my son gave us the needed planting soil and mulch to finish the job. When we returned, we planted the kids’ fruit trees – one for each of them; a pear, a yellow apple and a red apple. Each child helped me plant their tree and I hope that in 10 or 20 years they can pick some fruit and remenisce on this day to when the tree was smaller than them. Even better will be when they bring their children to pick from “their” tree. These trees are very long term investments — a nice metaphor for some other priorities we have in life: faith, marriage, children, education.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

The coolest thing…..

My oldest daughter had to work on a school project at a friend’s house so we went into town to pick her up. Dark clouds were rolling in from the west and you could see the rain bands falling in the distance. As we drove home, the coulds were upon us darkening everything up. But you could see clear, blue sky on the horizon. Rain began to fall and the clouds began their exit to the east with the sun setting in the west. One of the kids then pointed out the rainbow. It was so spectacular that we pulled over to watch it unfold. We had a good view east towards the dark clouds with a command over the whole horizon. With the setting sun behind us to the west, a huge full half circle rainbow was revealed in a most amazing fashion. I drove slowly in a little circle in the dirt parking lot so everyone could have a full view (I’ve had pilots do that in the air over the Grand Canyon). What a special family moment. I told the kids that I was happy that I could share the biggest rainbow I had ever seen with them. And then it slowly faded away only to be real in our memories.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Play ball…..

No, it’s not baseball time…..well, actually it is. But the play ball is for soccer starting, not for baseball.

Today was my first practice as a volunteer coach here in Kentucky. They do things quite differently here than when I coached in California so I’m trying to keep an open mind and remember than I am the outsider. For example, in CA the soccer season starts in late August and goes until right before Thanksgiving. Here, they go for 5 weeks and that’s it. It is very compressed so as not to compete with T-ball or basketball.

So I have 10 kids on the team — all 4-6 years old. Quite a range when you compare them in size and skill. I will have my work cut out for me. But they are all good kids and I hope to meet my main objective of making this fun for them so that they will return to play soccer next season. If I can sneak in a soccer skill here and there, I will do so. But at this age, it is mostly to familiarize them with the concepts and to make it fun. Any more than that confuses their short attention spans (and overworks me trying to orchestrate chaos amongst 10 very active kids).

We had a great practice tonight. I already know all the kids’ names. And right off the bat we have a game tomorrow night. Like I said, they do things differently around here.

I am very proud of my son. He can sometimes be shy in that kind of environment. But he just took right off and was one of the more assertive ones kicking the ball in the beehive of tiny soccer cleats meandering with the black and white core aimlessly around the field.

And by coaching I probably doubled the number of people I know in town. Even the mayor’s little girl is on my team. And she is quite good.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Stones…..

Heard a great sermon today at church. Pastor Paul went into an analogy of stones — how they can be used for evil (as in throwing at people like they did in the old days when they stoned someone to death) or good (as in building structures and foundations). We all have a stone but it is what we do with it that matters. Are we going to build something with it? Or throw it in anger? Pastor also mentioned that when you throw it in anger, you are still left with your anger and bitterness. However, when you build something with it, you end up with a whole that is greater than the original stone. It is a very nice parallel to our lives. The gospel referred to us as “living stones”. It all depends on what we do with our stone.

He also went on to describe a term I hadn’t heard before — “consumerism Christianity”. It is defined as that safe belief of not getting involved and taking from the church, from the service and from relationships but never giving. It becomes isolationism and benefits no one. Your faith, religion and spirituality need to be exercised regularly. By giving, by participating, by involving yourself. You end up being a stone in a greater group of stones built for good that has a value greater than the sum of it’s parts.

What are you doing with your stone?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Where’d spring go?…..

We survived the storm last night. There were reports of a tornado touchdown about 15 miles northeast of here. I took the kids down to the basement in a pretend drill of where the safest spot would be in case of a tornado. And also told them not to wait for mommy or daddy. My wife was watching the weather radar on the news while I kept a watch out looking for any cloud activity. It made me realize that we need a weather radio. So I ordered one online today. And with the storm passing, the cold front is now moving through. The beautiful 70F+ degree weather of last week is a distant memory as winter’s last gasp sets in for a day or two. As of bedtime tonight, it is 37F degrees. There was even some sleet tonight right before the “Thunder Over Louisville” or “Thunder” as it is referred to locally. It seems about 50 years ago, one of the Kentucky Derby folks thought it would be a good idea to kick off Derby week with some fireworks. Add a sparkler here, some big corporate sponsors there, and you have North America’s largest fireworks show. Who’da thought — I had never heard about until moving here. It seems that people travel from several different states to check out the show — Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, etc. I watched it one HDTV and, while the picture was beautiful, I’m sure it is more spectacular in person. I’m just not gonna fight 500-700 thousand people in almost freezing temps late at night with the kids to see them. They have a whole bridge flanked by a barge on each side belching fire into the night. It is definitely a fireworks extravaganza. At the end of 25 to 30 minutes your brain begins to numb to the displays and you almost want it over already. Kinda like the Vegas neon lights, but exploding. One of these years we will go. And Derby time is officially here. We’ve been told that things will start to get crazy. People here are fanatical about their Derby.

It will be interesting.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Remember…..

10 years ago, domestic terrorism shattered our country’s peace in Oklahoma City. Please take a moment to remember and say a prayer for all the victims and their families.

Today on CNN there is what appears (and advertised) to be a good documentary on the horror of that day and follow up on survivors and the families of the victims.

Previous post on my visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial – Post 1 and post 2.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

How’s it mowin’…..

Well, I finished the front pasture and the back yard. When I started with the demo mower, the cumulative engine time on the hour meter was between 0.2 and 0.3. It now reads 5.0. However, that doesn’t include the 5 minutes I took to corral a snake — a black chaser I believe — into a part of the front pasture I already mowed so I didn’t run over him…..like I did one of his friends, unfortunately. That is a long time to mow but the whole property now has a park-like setting look to it. I spent about 30 minutes this afternoon as the sun went down and the temperature slowly dropped to just marvel at how good everything looked, how beautiful that moment in time was (with the birds singing, the kids playing and a lone hot air balloon in the distance looking for a good put down location), and to reflect back on the day.

We started it out by volunteering for church in the nursery and for after-service refreshments. I then jumped on the mower as soon as we got home right after noon. I chatted with a neighbor and then came in for some refreshments and chips and dip while catching up on the NASCAR race. It was then back out to the mower which finally ran out of gas. A run into WalMart fixed that. While I was filling up, a guy at the next pump said “That looks like a perfect excuse to quit mowin’. Why’d you come here?”. I thought that was pretty funny and will have to remember that next time. I then gave each of the kids a 10 minute ride while I mowed the back part. It killed my back though because with each bump my back had no where to go with them sitting on my lap. It was worth it though and made for one more fun memory for me and one I hope they will look back on ridin’ on daddy’s lap while he was mowin’. I wonder if they make mini-riding mowers I can get each of them. Then they can have fun while helping me out without them even knowing it.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A busy day for the slower pace…..

While it has been a nice adjustment to the slower pace out here, today was a bit different and included a lot of running around and errands. First was a morning meeting for the volunteer soccer coaches. I coached AYSO soccer out in CA and this will be my son’s first year playing. It should be exciting trying to keep the bee hive of 4-6 year olds on the field. The season is compressed and short. Soccer isn’t a big thing out here and they try not to overlap with the basketball and T-ball seasons because those would take priority with the parents and kids.

Next were a few errands since I was going into Louisville. Stores like Pep Boys, Office Depot and Garden Grove which we don’t have out where we live. Then it was off to the pool store to complete scheduling and payment of a new pool. It was something I had promised the kids since we have lots of room and we will need something to cool us off when the humidity hits us smack in the face. I plan on using it as much as the kids — especially right after mowing the lawn and such.

I returned home mid afternoon and was rescued by my neighbor — again. This time he helped me out digging the trench for my underground dog fence. I had previously ran the wire (see this post) and got it operational so the dogs would stay around — and it worked (see this post). But now the grass is growing before our eyes and the wire must either be moved before you mow or buried. Larry, my neighbor, refused to let me use the shovel (always listen to the wiser country folk) and brought over his Ditch Witch tracor. Even with that it took us about 3 hours to go all the way around where I had run the wire. But it turned out great and I could now mow without fear that I would cut the wire.

And speaking of mowing, I had a demo unit delivered yesterday afternoon for me to try out. It is a zero turn mower, of which I was unfamiliar with mowing my postage stamp sized lawn in CA. Well, I now have some grass acreage that needs taming. And, while I love mowing, I don’t want to spend all day doing it which is definitely a possibility if I bought one of those regular riding lawn mowers. So listening to the wisdom of the country folk out here, I am demoing this. It only took me 1 1/2 hours to do the front lawn (at a blazing 10mph). I still have the back as well as the pasture by the road which I will take care of after church tomorrow. It looks like this is the ticket though.

More to come but it is late so I’m bed bound.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Lack of creativity…..

All you readers are lucky. With today being April Fool’s Day, it was my intention to post something funny and spectacular hoping to hook those who are gullible. However, there was a void of creative (and innocent and harmless) ideas in my cranium so it didn’t happen. None the less, welcome to April.

Today was the first spoiler day in a string of 70F degree sunny, beautiful days. The 52F degree temps mixed with clouds and rain showers contrasted with the gorgeous spring days of Tues, Wed and Thurs. I don’t mind it though because, as I have learned and adapted, I took full advantage and appreciation of those sunny days. During those days I played in by the creek with the kids, informally chatted with the neighbors for quite a while, swung the kids on the tree swing and sat with my wife on a recently moved bench pointed towards the sunset.

Regarding my recent post on the Schiavo saga, my wife and I had a conversation on the same topic. She has some similar experience on the issue and once again my viewpoint has been influenced. I think the takeaway from all of this is to talk with your loved ones and let them know specifically how YOU feel and what should be done to YOU. Only you should be affected by your beliefs. It gets ugly and messy when people start imposing their beliefs — pro-life or right to die — onto others who cannot speak for themselves.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net