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Bloged in luna see, music, seasons by rod Thursday May 31, 2007

it is 1:34am on the last day of May. The moon is nearly full for the second time this month. Someone gave the downbeat. There is a chorus of bird songs completely surrounding the house. This is no lone, confused, ambien-deprived, avian insomniac. No no. This is the Sequence from Verdi’s Requiem.
It’s been going on for 30 minutes, and the Lachrymosa hasn’t played yet.

Sing on, little birdies. Sing on into the dawn. Sing May out with a vernal melody.
Sing for the Cardinal, who’s cuddling his mate. Sing for the Chicadee dee dee, who dozes, and for his partner, the Titmouse, whose flutters refrain. Laugh for the Ladderback, resting his head.
Sing me to sleep on this last night of May.
Under the blue moon, sing.

carpe diem

Bloged in life, metaphor, time by rod Friday May 18, 2007


Time takes its toll
and the past is a tolling bell, “come and remember.”
The future whispers, “enter cautiously,
for you can never go back.”

I stand and grieve for the rotting timbers,
and ask why I didn’t listen to the subtle voice of tomorrow
before plunging headlong into the whitewater rapids
and racing from the past.

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will rise up and call you blessed

Bloged in family, life by rod Thursday May 17, 2007

As the semester ends and grades are completed and I try to find it in myself to relax, I’ve had many thoughts born of the elusive mental quiet. Truth is, there is no place where the responsibility actually ends. I’ve been wanting to take a bit of a trip on the windhorse. But even away, alone, I’ve still the responsibility to get back again.
pawpawContemplating Mother as Mother’s Day approached, and dealing with homesickness that tends to escalate at annual times such as these, new thoughts occurred to me. When I go “home” I experience a state of relaxation that I rarely feel. A few times stand out in my memory. I felt it at cousin Cheryl’s wedding reception - wonderful party in a field with hamburgers and hotdogs and mountain music, green grass, trees, and misty dusk. It is an evening I’ll never forget. I felt it on my Grandmother’s patio. Just the two of us sitting there catching up, remembering, telling stories – and then we just got quiet for a while and watched the sun play in the leaves and cast shadows on the grass. I felt it last summer for an hour on Jodi’s new patio. The night descending and stars appearing in the dark, country sky, the invisible trees waving their invisible limbs overhead exhumed memories years buried and allowed a relaxation that only a child can feel.
There is a commonality to all these scenarios. My parents. Of course, the ability to go home and just relax into their care is the obvious ingredient, but I’ve realized that there is something bigger.
I promise that I would never feel that my kids are stress inducers. Honest. (probably). But the responsibility that goes with them is definitely a source of stress. The sharing of those responsibilities with Allison is only partly helpful, because when either of us is stressed, so is the other. Also, stresses that can be shared and traded are only everyday busyness. There are more encompassing responsibilities that span the entire childhood. Raising children is an extremely important work. Who will this kid be, and what role will I have played, good or bad?
It occurs to me that when I go home with my kids, I very much entrust my parents with their care. This may annoy my parents, I don’t know, and I don’t think I’ve ever realized I do it. But who better to receive my weary emotions than them? They have always done it without a word of complaint, and I always know that only good can come from my parents’ interaction with my kids. My children adore my parents. They become giddy with joy at thought of being with them. I know better than anyone what my parents have to offer to children, and I go home begging for it as their child, and for my children as a parent.

So anyway, I’ll stop rambling, but not before I say thanks to Mom and Dad for being a source of ever-growing comfort for 43 years. I’m watching and feeling and studying you trying to learn how to do it myself.

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day of mothers

Bloged in family, life, parenting by rod Sunday May 13, 2007

Back in October, on the plane home from Dallas, I began thinking. Actually, I’d already been thinking, and don’t remember precisely what stream of consciousness led me to the particular thought to which I’m about to refer, but something did, and I wrote about it then.
Despite all the years I lived with my parents, it was not until I’d moved away and had children of my own that I ever felt like I gave anything to them. I’ll not ramble on about that, because if you like, you can hit the link and go back and read it.
from whence I've comeThat’s where my mind has been lately as Mother’s Day has approached. Everyone is thinking of gifts of appreciation for their mothers, and deep inside we know that nothing even approaches an expression of what we realize we’ve been given. But I feel that the closest I, personally, could ever come is follow in the path that brought me here and bring another generation into the world.
None of this is to say that children who’ve not born children haven’t given to their parents. It’s just that it is the closest I’ve ever come to having felt like I’d given them anything of worth.
While I was thinking all this through this week, I thought of a wonderful poem by Billy Collins that illustrates these thoughts so wonderfully. So I think I’ll shut up here, wish Mom a happy Mother’s Day, and link you to the Collins poem.
So here it is, please go read it.

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Bloged in education, seasons, traveling by rod Monday May 7, 2007

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.


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the edge of the shire

Bloged in seasons, time, traveling by rod Saturday May 5, 2007

Godspeed to my graduating seniors. My prayers go with you.

“The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.”

the edge of the shire

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memento mori

Bloged in life, time by rod Thursday May 3, 2007

Today, while I gave the final exam to my Theory 4 students, a party was happening just outside the door. It was a bittersweet party as a farewell to sole music faculty peer. When I’d got my students started on the exam, I escaped the room, sneaked through the maze of well-wishers and holed up in my office to try to tie up some loose ends of end of semester stuff. The party, however, expanded into my office like suds from an overflowing washing machine as students, stuck their heads in to say hi.
Finally, I made my way out to join in the “official” wordsmithing speeches. After I’d said my heartfelt piece, a student came up to me and asked what was my favorite passage in the Bible. I jokingly snatched at a few out-of-context thoughts, but he didn’t think it was funny. He was serious. So I pacified him with one that means a lot to me.
He told me he’d been watching “Dead Poets Society” for class, and that he’d been thinking about the concept of seizing the day. How does one go about it? He said that he’d been trying to think of bible verses that spoke to this idea but was coming up void. Well I spouted off about a dozen, before he interrupted me and a huge smile came across his face. “Wow, I hadn’t thought about how that is saying the same thing,” and, “wow, that is connected.” Once again, I thought about how narrowly and compartmentally we read the scriptures.
handful of life
When I was driving home this evening I was thinking about this, and about how it was related to Allison’s blog from earlier this week. A stream of consciousness began. Allison was writing about busyness, and being overwhelmed. She wrote of noticing my approach to the chaos that has reached record proportions this spring. I’ve deliberately slowed down. I’ve quit blogging for the past several weeks, perhaps I’ve stopped trying to interpret the chaos that I live in. Instead, I’ve picked up the camera and merely passed on images of what I’m seeing. Perhaps equivalent to recording a foreign language and playing it back as it is. I don’t know. But I’ve photographed things instead of using words. I’ve attempted to freeze beautiful moments forever, to expose ugliness. To make people look up, to look closer, deeper, peer past the surface. Contemplate the hidden. Take a deep breath. This moment will never come again.
I’d talked with the student about that just an hour earlier. We are called to the moment. But we live in the past and the future. The things we can’t change and the things we know nothing about. Who, worrying about what’s past can go back and make anything different than it was? Who, by worrying about the future can add a single moment to his life?
Life is a vapor, a wisp. It quickly dissipates and vanishes. It is sand through our fingers, soap bubbles blown and burst. forever youngAll we have is now, we are promised nothing else.

So I thought about my intentional slowing. My photos. I thought about my ride under the full flower moon the other night. I thought about shooting pictures at 65 mph on my bike. That had raised some eyebrows. “You’d better be careful!”
But I was careful. I was being safe. Just as I was being on my drive home today, snugly buckled in, relaxing behind the airbag and the side curtains. I was being alert when the 18-wheel chemical tanker immediately in front of me blew his back tire and shredded rubber and steel belt shrapnel pelted my windshield and three lanes of traffic all around me punched the breaks. The truck driver was being careful too.
But we’re only promised now. And we weren’t even promised now five minutes ago. Each moment is a gift, undeserved and unearned. This evening has been an unpromised, free gift. I’m grabbing each moment. I’ll try to take a picture for you.

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sight smell and sound

Bloged in poems, random, traveling by rod Thursday May 3, 2007

full flower moon

I rode hard under the May Day moon,
I banked steep
I leaned low
I rode and rode and rode.
The nocturnal damp was imbued with the
scent of moonlight and honeysuckle.
The orange full flower moon
lit the fields and glanced off the tree leaves.
The forest canopy, a rural skyline.
Straight, open pipes ripping the pristine silence of the night
with 1100 cubic centimeters of music.
Quickly past, peace is left
in my aural wake in the moonlight

night ride

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