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It is a full day of driving and hours of visiting. But, there is enough of a pause in our day to watch what is on broadcast television. My channel surfing began.
Something flashed on the screen that caught my attention. It was the color combination that I saw. Movement of the colors stirred something deep inside. The red, white and blue of Old Glory was the backdrop of the camera shot. A national service for Memorial Day was were my search stopped.
The face of a woman talking made me wonder. She told the countless numbers of viewers that she said Good-bye to her husband. Her final words were, “I know this sounds cheesy but be careful out there. I love you more than life itself.”
That’s when she added that in an hour and a half from her final words to her husband, he was killed in Iraq by an IED. Her voice choked. What she said next made me feel deeply for her, “I was 21 and a widow.”
It was not a waste for him to die. Certainly it was a tragedy. No one who dies in war is a meaningless loss.
In this country we enjoy an amazing liberty that every human being in this world would love to have. It is a freedom that is sweet, priceless and empowering. This great treasure did not happen by accident.
Instead, special men and women who have served in our armed forces won that freedom for all of us to enjoy. Our country enjoys a life that people of all colors, cultures, and backgrounds embrace together. The blood of many Americans flowed so that we could speak our mind, pursue life, liberty and happiness.
When the national orchestra played the Coast Guard hymn I recognized the tune. The anthem for the Marine Corps was easy to recognize. Anchors aweigh portrayed mighty Navy ships cutting through the oceans of the world. Flying high painted images of powerful Air Force jets flying in defense of our nation. Finally, the cassons rolled into battle by the Army to secure our nation’s liberty.
Thank you, men and women for serving so that all of us Americans could all live free. God bless you. God bless America!
photo credit: ijango image
There was a great commotion in heaven. Satan was shouting loudly, complaining that Jesus gets all of the attention. The evil one further whined that he has accomplished far more than Jesus ever had. Jesus never answered the accuser but simply smiled with an aura of serenity.
The Father interrupted Satan’s rantings. God gave a directive. He told both Satan and Jesus to take two hours and write out all of their accomplishments.
The two flew through the two hours pouring pages into their computers. Just before the two-hour deadline a powerful bolt of lightning struck along with a clap of thunder. All power was lost and the computers in the competition also went down.
After a few enthusiastic moments, the electricity was restored. The computers went back on-line. But, the competition ended as time expired.
Jesus produced a massive dissertation. Satan only had a title page. Of course the Adversary accused Jesus of cheating. The Father smiled, raised his hand to stop Satan’s sniveling and then spoke, “No, Jesus did not cheat. Just remember,” the Father chuckled, “Jesus Saves.”
If this very funny joke could have been my experience last week I would have been delighted. By the end of Thursday I had completed the majority of my exegesis of Psalm 29. It was a tough week so I was already behind in my schedule.
Friday I pushed myself and wrapped up my research. After dinner I went into my home office to continue my studies. To my shock and dismay the file was nowhere to be found. Only my Thursday file existed. I had lost a day and a half of work.
I kept my spirits up and tried to be positive. After a brief explanation to my wife I determined to go back to my office and work hard for most of Saturday. That was a determination that I accomplished the next morning.
Satisfied that I had reconstructed most of my work in six straight hours, I took a few hours with my wife to enjoy the beautiful California sun. Early in the evening I was back in my home study calling up my file. Again it was nowhere to be found! Only my partial Thursday file existed.
It was difficult to be facing Sunday in a matter of hours. Yet, my primary preparation was lost for the second time. I did save. Really, I did!
photo credit: google image
I climbed into my pickup truck with confidence. The traffic report on-line said that my entire route was clear. My journey to pick up my dad was true to form, swift and sure.
My dad was still in bed when I arrived. He looked so tired. Several of us helped him get dressed, washed up and loaded into my truck for the two hour journey to Sacramento.
Getting my dad in the truck was a chore. He is weak and in enormous pain when he moves. My hope was that my truck suspension would float him over all the bumps.
Our journey to the attorney’s office was uneventful. It was just the way it should be. But, then when we arrived, it was time for my dad to climb out of the cab.
The simple movements were painful. He moaned and grimaced with each effort. Finally, in the wheel chair we made it into the office.
We were early so we had to wait. During our wait, nausea got the better of my dad. Coughing exasperated the pain in his chest.
When the attorney sat down with us, the questions were tough. He asked my dad what he wanted should the time come to choose between medical heroics or not. The choice of pain medication or not also had to be answered. These questions made me so sad.
My dad had a few brilliant moments of a sense of humor. When the attorney asked if he desired to pursue every mechanical option possible when the moment of truth arrived, my dad did a Caesar. He turned his thumb down and chuckled. He did not want heroics in the end.
After the medical paperwork was done, we moved on to the financial matters. Explanation after explanation ensued. With signature following signature, everything was legally in place.
Death was our topic. I didn’t like it. How could life which is so precious, wonderful and meaningful now be so full of sorrow and sadness?
We drove back to the Bay Area. My dad climbed gingerly back into his bed. He thanked me for driving him, smiled and we waved good-bye. I drove home and prayed.
photo credit: ijango image
A good story told well is a fabulous experience in life. Everyone loves a good story. From the time that children and listen to the time when seniors can no longer hear, stories are a part of making life, life.
Both the well written story and those who are skilled at telling a story are both needed. Some of the best story tellers make movies and great TV series.
One of my favorites has been 24. “Has been” is so hard to say. 24, the amazing TV series, has come to an end.
I have been following Jack Bauer and the adventures of CTU for years. My memory doesn’t serve me well so I don’t remember what originally captured my attention but I was hooked very early.
Monday night was the last of the series. It was not just a season finale. This was the end of the series.
Reports have told us that the exceptionally popular series has ended because it has become too expensive to produce. All of the good stuff that has been blown up, destroyed and elaborately constructed would add to the veracity of that story. But, nothing will console all of us who are 24 fans.
Tonight President Taylor was heading down the road that makes all of us weary of political posturing. Jack Bauer is on a terror himself. Justice has pushed him to the brink of unimaginable deeds that no one could justify.
During the final episode, I wondered what President Taylor would do. Leaders who are so passionate about their vision that they compromise a little here and then a little there, make big mistakes. I didn’t see any way for her to redeem herself.
Jack was living on the edge too. His retribution surpassed a reasonable response. Sure, he loved Renee. She was needlessly assassinated. But, his blood lust made me wonder and began to doubt him.
Chloe came to the rescue. Her friendship brought Jack back. Loyalty set the good guys back on track.
When one president of power stares down another president with a precise accusation, “I trusted you and you betrayed me!” we all nod with understanding. We want to trust but when betrayal is a tool used by those in a position of advantage, we are disappointed, hurt, angry. Yet, resolution comes.
Chloe’s farewell tears were all of ours. Jack’s fading into the sunset gives us hope for movie. I will miss this show.
photo credit: ijango image
The early morning daylight was ideal. Most of the commute traffic hadn’t gotten started yet. Parking spots on the street were empty and gave me plenty of room to negotiate my cycling.
Geary Street is lined with businesses that were just waking up. Most of the shops still had their doors locked and CLOSED signs hanging in their front windows. The distinctive odors of urban living were not so pungent during this time of the day.
I played leap-frog with several commuter buses. They were the first wave in the morning. Each lengthy coach would pass me spewing its exhaust when the driver accelerated.
Then, while it stopped to pick up passengers, I would pedal past it. Time was on its side. Eventually, the bus would pull away from the curb just as I was trying to get ahead.
The driver’s eyes would meet mine in her huge side view mirror. She smiled, her brake lights illuminated and I sailed past her. Once I was on my way, I could hear the huge engine accelerate and groan to push ahead of the lone cyclist on the road.
Eventually, I turned off the thoroughfare and made my way through a quiet neighborhood. Up ahead I could see the woods of the Golden Gate Park. That is my return home route.
The eucalyptus fragrance is pervasive. It gives the greenery around my route is wonderful. But, I am not enjoying it much.
Pain is crowding my morning ride. It is a familiar feeling. The location of my ache has had repeated visits in my past.
I was close enough to home. It was time to dismount my ride. I carefully stood on my feet. Posture is key here. There are no quick movements. That would aggravate my discomfort.
Yes, my back has had a muscle pull. For me it is usually in my lower back on my right side. Climbing the stairs to my apartment was proof that my back was in for days of agony. I pulled myself up by the handrail and moaning when I did.
When pain bites, I groan. My noises are not scripted. They just sound out how we feel. I even laughed at myself for making such bizarre howling.
photo credit: ijango image
Sylvester Stalone appeared on the screen. He looked like he was dressed for a Rocky role. But, he looked different.
I watched for a while. Then, I realized that the different look was his age. Rocky looked old. He was. Sly is 60.
Suddenly I realized that this was Rocky 6 or Rocky Balboa. I never saw the movie in theaters. Like so many others, I laughed at the idea of a boxing match featuring someone not only well past his reitrement years in boxing.
Yet, I was not changing the channel. Nor was I laughing at the idea of viewing this film. Instead, I was growing in interest.
The Rocky character was not the awkward character in Rocky 3. That character was trying to be suave and sophisticated. He had lost the innocent, simple and likeable features of Rocky 1.
This sixth and certainly final installment of the Rocky series recaptured that popular character that began this movement of fan appeal. Like every good story, the character became a realistic hero. Like every part of the Rocky adventure the narrative was inspirational.
It was far more than a feel good movie. Instead, the development of the plot, the growth of the characters. the mixture of past stars like Paulie and new characters like Marie add to the story line. Inherent in the parts of the flick that speak to my aging body I heard clearly.
Too often we who are on the backside of our moutain, give up. There is nothing left in our basement. The beast on the inside has been silent, absent or dead for a long time.
Even as his son begs his dad not to embarass the family by getting back into the ring for one final time Rocky uses his simple style to highlight a message from the movie, “It’s about getting up when you’ve been knocked and to keep moving forward.” How good is this? Sly delivered this lesson to his son with believability. It was a favorite part of the story.
The training was sensible. Rocky’s last fight was good. When Mason’s hand was broken, the developing story made very good sense. Rocky walked out the champion even though the referee raised the hands of another.
photo credit: ijango image
The rising sun woke me up just before 6AM. I love to bounce out of bed when the rays of the morning gentle call me to meet the day. It’s a lot better than the shock of a buzzing alarm clock that I can’t find when I’m disoriented in the dark.
Today I donned my cool weather gear, grabbed my Gary Fisher hybrid bicycle and headed for the sun. It is a short half block uphill to Geary Street. Riding my bicycle in San Francisco has a steep conditioning code. This city has a lot of hills.
I haven’t made a commitment to be a rider again. Rather, I go for a walk and bring my bicycle with me. Real bikers would never get off their bike and walk up a hill.
However, a walker would not mind at all if a long downhill stretch could be attacked with a handy bicycle. The dignity of a cyclist is wrapped up in his constant movement, spinning the pedals and feet that never touch the ground. Walking isn’t allowed.
Walkers, however, don’t have such rules. The art of walking is about enjoying the stroll. Creative progress is the name of the game.
When I reach Geary St. I turn right. For a moment on my turn I gaze at the beautiful sight. It is a long long downhill run all the way to 19th Ave.
My bicycle and I are one. We race down the hill, dodge a few gaps in the asphalt, pass a bus and don’t slow down until the amber light overtakes the next signal. My lungs are burning.
Now, my brain is catching up with reality. I haven’t even travelled a mile. There are nearly four miles left to ride. Whoops!
The light turns green. I dial down my speed. My hope is that I have enough in my tank to get back home.
These three-wheeled carts are zipping around each other like bubble bees hunting for nectar. Blooming flowers to them are cars parked along the streets that are marked for street cleaning. Tickets are written as fast as dollars through a currency counter at the bank.
The comical sites stops suddenly when a meter maid slams on her brakes to keep from running me over. I nod my helmeted head with gratitude. Now, I pedal on hoping to find some oxygen.
photo credit: google image
Sunday I had spoken three times. In addition I had several excellent conversations with a number of people. They were great investments of time but each one took a little bit of energy away.
By the time our fabulous Mediterranean lunch was warming our tummies, the sleepiness had a strong grip. Then, we drove across the Bay Bridge to join our daughter and son-in-law for the afternoon cinema. It was cool outside so we bundled up a bit but sat down in a warm theater. Now, we were really doomed.
Past good movies have kept me awake and engaged. But, a difficult movie has little chance. It can even be painful trying to stay alert.
Robin Hood with Russell Crowe was the movie. It was a show that I was looking forward to seeing. The swashbuckling imagery of this legendary bandit who robbed the rich and gave to the poor is a favorite of every action lover.
My expectation became limiting. Instead of watching a prequel, I kept waiting for Robin to launch into his exploits.
Expectations ruin relationships. It is a human flaw where assumption trumps reality. This attitude feeds the problems related to prejudice.
The cinematography was excellent. It was a beautiful portrait of what we all imagine the European countryside to be. That part of the movie was wonderful.
Members who were cast for the various roles were amazing. The talent of the actors made the silver screen pop with believability, intrigue and depth. These big names stars have an amazing reputation for a reason that was easy to see.
Several action scenes were wonderfully entertaining. Any seige on a castle is worth a scene. The final battle with its aerial view made this epic proportion-sized movie filled up my mind with a clear picture of the tactics of this battle.
Something was missing from this movie however. Part of it was the expectation of something different. I didn’t realize that a prequel was unfolding in front of me, that is, how Robin Hood became Robin Hood.
But, there was something else that was missing. Robin Hood whether traditionally portrayed or reconstructed must be oozing with adventure. This was missing. The brazen actions and story of right overcoming wrong seemed diluted. Oh, well. there’s always the A Team.
photo credit: ijango image
I kissed Yvonne good-bye. Then, I grabbed my keys. Into the garage I bounced still beaming.
After hitting the garage door button, I strapped on my chaps. Next, I grabbed my coat and stepped out into the weather. It’s a chance to decide how I will dress.
The San Francisco weather was cool, foggy, damp and the light breeze dropped the temperatures. It was not perfect riding weather but I was going any way. Today was the inaugural ride with my new-found motorcyclist friends in San Francisco.
The men of Sunset Church were gathering 20 miles away to BBQ “Man Food”, yep, MEAT. It was a good excuse to fire up my Kawasaki Nomad and have my first recreational ride since moving to California. New friends would rendezvous at the church and we would ride together.
Now it was time. I threw my right leg over the saddle of my faithful stead. Together we backed up out of the garage. Pausing to enjoy that special next moment, I turned on the ignition, flipped the start toggle to on and held the ignition switch until the engine fired into life.
I cinched up my helmet, tightened my gloves and kicked my bike into gear. Smoothly I let out the clutch while twisting on the throttle. Powerfully, decidedly and with an amazing display of chrome and shine we sailed through the avenues and on to our destination.
A parking space opened up in front of our church building. I pulled in leaving room for my new riding buddies. This was going to be a fun day.
David roared up first. He was riding his Harley Davidson Sportster. It was shiny.
Then, Mike came along with his HD Lowrider. The distinctive rumble of his bike announced his coming. It was also spruced up and sparkling. The three of us cheered when Lester showed up on his HD Lowrider. We all mounted our rides and roared off to Foster City.
We skirted busy freeways with route down Skyline Rd. We rumbled through San Bruno and picked up Highway 92. The woods along our route were thick with trees. Views of the mighty Pacific were grand. Riding together gave birth to new friendships and memories that started laughter, teasing and all sorts of fun.
photo credit: bruce fong photography
I am not confident when it comes to making my way around this maze of asphalt and urban busyness. Someday I hope know the area well enough to take short cuts and alternate routes. Today was not that day.
Finding the hospital was easy. But, getting some where is no guarantee of getting back. This is a city filled with hills, one-way streets, dead ends, bus-only lanes, no-turn lanes and a myriad of other obstacles for the simple driver, that’d be me.
Once my dad’s blood work was done my siblings and I all waved good-bye. Confidently, I climbed into my truck. Karen, my GPS voice, was going to guide me to my office on the other side of town.
The street that I was on is Jackson. It is a one-way street going East. Of course that is only when it is East of Powell. West of Powell, Jackson is still one-way but going West. Confusing, eh? That’s only the beginning.
After I drove one block Karen instructed me to turn right. Normally, it made sense to turn left. That would have been retracing my steps back to the West side of the city. But, I dutifully followed her instructions.
There was a tunnel ahead. I passed through it but was startled when I emerged on the other end. The two lanes in the tunnel expanded to four with a very short block to Post St. But, I was in the left lane.
Of course the traffic through the tunnel was heavy and Karen shouts out for me to turn right. But, there are now three lanes of cars filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic to my right. I miss that turn.
That would be the last right turn for a long distance. A bus-only lane appeared to my right when I finally pushed myself over. Ahead, NO-RIGHT turn signs lined up through the horizon.
Groaning, I merged left again to the dismay of several drivers who pointed out my erratic driving with a single finger salute. Before I knew it I was lost and Karen was yelling at me to turn right, turn left, turn, turn, turn! I did make it to my office, eventually.
photo credit: ijango image