I only spend a short time there:  After a quick cup or two of coffee at the local diner, I drive to the nearby Susquehanna River.  I view the ever-changing water and mountains lit by the upcoming dawn.  It is such a short time I spend here but it may be the most important part of my day.

The seconds here (and they are not more than that) remind me there is a world, universe just below my sight that I have no idea of.  I am transported to another world.  The time here reminds me I have to be aware what is just beneath my eyes may be a world I know nothing of.

This tantalizes me.  It also prompts me to be more alert of every step I take.  The familiar may have become too familiar.  Habits sometimes imprison you and somehow you need to free yourself of them and see what truly is there for the first time.

My short visit to The River is a reminder that I often have blinders on and must take them off.  There is world after world just below the worlds we are familiar with.

Even your own backyards which you view every day can become too familiar to you and if you can change your focus another universe will open up to you.  Universe after universe is right under your eyes.  There are no lack of universes to explore.  All you have to do is remove the veil under your eyes.  My visit to the shore of the River is a daily reminder of this.

We Are All Crazy

Author: siggy

We are all crazy:  each one of us.  Each of us is a snowflake and God never made two identical.  So accept the way God has gifted you, the way God has wired you.  The sooner you do the quicker you can live, march to the tune of a different drummer.  It is only the tune you can hear.  So march to your tune.  The sooner you do, the happier you will be.  And those around you will be happier.

It is those who refuse to be the unique being God created who are generally unhappy.  So learn to accept the unique brand of craziness only you can know.

All I ever did was rub his belly every time he turned over and wanted it.  Atilla The Hun (or Tilla for short), who I call one of my puppies although he is going on two, is now my friend for life.

I realize humans do not want their bellies rubbed but I will tell you for certain each of us wants and needs positive strokes every day from our loved ones.  I do.  Maybe I can’t speak for others.

I tell you one thing humans are notorious for their lack of strokes (or should I call it encouragement).  I try to refrain from criticism.  We are so quick to speak up when someone does us wrong or fails us in some way.

There are many dying from lack of strokes, encouragement, affection from others.  We are so stingy with it.  We all like our “bellies rubbed” every day every time we want it.  Think of “Tilla”.  And the many friends you potentially can make if you take the time to indicate to others how much you truly like (and love them).

Maybe you do not want your belly rubbed but a kind word consistently given to another goes a long way.  So refrain as much as you can from telling another how much they “failed” you.  It is often small things.  It is the small details in life.

Phil Jackson, the great basketball coach who has won nine NBA titles, did not turn around his career until he realized for every criticism he dished out he had to give nine positive strokes to his players.  So many times we have that ratio reversed so think about that.  And how many people you can win over if you use criticism sparingly and learn to find positive things to say about the people in your life consistently.

It seems obvious but not to some:  you are flawed.  It is important to know that.  People who think they are perfectly fine create havoc around them; for they are not aware how they “mess” up.  And the people who they impact in the process.

The better you are aware of your proclivities, the less this happens.  Each person is prejudiced.  The word comes from pre judge.  The only question is to what extent.  Each person has leanings in one direction.  The better you are aware how you actually think and feel about certain things, the less you become prejudiced.

Words are always one sided.  There is always another side to the story.  Unfortunately sometimes you do not have the chance to rectify the situation.  Sometimes the damage has been done with words expressing one side of a situation.

Civility has a purpose.  Your rough edges get smoothed out.  Manners seem to (???) gone out the window.  Parents are not teaching manners.  They ought to.  Pleases and thank yous are always important.  Telling someone you have messed up, blew this situation is always helpful.

When Jesus was asked how many times should you forgive a person he said, Seventy times seven.  The fact is you are flawed and so is your fellow man.  When he/she makes a mistake we are commanded to forgive that person.

That commandment produces compassion in others.  Yes, each of us remind us of that fact it is easier to forgive others of their transgressions.  We all fall short of the mark.  And there is no getting around that.  So next time some one makes a mistake let it go.  You will be happier.  And so will the person.

I love my local diner.  For the first five and a half years I did not even set foot in it.  It is a mere three miles from my house.  Finally I started going there.  I was waking up early and frankly was lonely.  My wife was not up yet.

At first, I would just get a cup of coffee there.  I was learning about the lives of the waitresses (I do not like the word server) in dribs and drabs.  I learned that Sharon had almost worked there for thirty years.  She loved what she did.  And there was Jane and others whose lives I slowly entered.

They were making a living from serving me (and others) but it was more than that.  They had running relationships with most of their customers.  The local diner’s rules were pretty relaxed:  I saw customers going in back of the counters and serving themselves coffee because the waitress was just too busy at the moment.

I would sit at the counter taking in all the conversations around me.  You might say I was eavesdropping without being too obvious about it.  I heard some big tales especially about hunting.  This county shuts down when hunting season for deer starts the Monday after Thanksgiving.  In fact, this state ranks two in the nation for bear hunting.  Some of the tidbits and snatches of conversation I heard were fascinating.

I would not talk to too many people.  I could tell some customers, particularly the men, were curious who I was.  I would take my time, let them take me in.  One waitress asked me if I had just moved here.  It was only last summer when my town had their 200 year anniversary.  I realized I had to do things a little differently if I wanted to meet people in this town.

I started watering the plants in the post office and gradually grew to know the postmaster and the other clerk:  we became friends after a period of months.  I would water the plants six days a week.  And not only that, I would run into other people.

I started going to a local church where I felt very comfortable and met people in my community there.  Going to the local diner was just another step in my involvement into the community.

Going to the diner had other ramifications:  I would occasionally go to the the Susquehanna River which was less than an hundred yards away.  I went there today and mist was rising in swirls from the surface of the water.  It took my breath away.  I have spent more time visiting the River in my town since I started going to the diner the last four weeks than in the first five and half years I have lived here.  All because I am occasionally getting my morning coffee at my local diner.

It is an absolutely magnificent River.  It is another world.  You never know what you are going to see there.  It could be a bald eagle or a great egret or some other exotic bird or creature.  Usually when you least expect it.  I missed having being able to walk to it which had been a five minute walk from my house in Duncannon.  Now I am back.  There are so many reasons visiting the diner has changed my life.  Visiting The River is only one reason.

I Do Not Want To But…

Author: siggy

I do not want to but… Feelings can be deceivers.  If you only do things when it feels right or the wind is blowing the right directions, you neglect tasks.  Sometimes it is simply the right thing to do despite how you feel.

Too many tasks are left undone when you wait for the perfect moment to do it.  Feelings run the gamut–from a continuum of 0 to 100.  It is okay to obey your gut.  Nevertheless, you also have to use your reasoning as far as doing things.

As I said, sometimes it is simply the right thing to do despite how you feel.  So next time you state, “I do not feeling like doing this,” ask yourself is it the right thing to do and act accordingly.

It is so easy to take the weather for granted.  Spring is now four weeks in.  I no longer notice it is forty, fifty degrees every day sometimes higher.  Somehow I have to stop anticipating the future weather and enjoy each stage of the spring.

The daffodils have bloomed already along with the primrose.  The day lilies are popping out of the ground rapidly.  The blackberry plants have sprouted.  Now the leaves on the trees are budding and rapidly unfolding.

I need to slow down and observe each step of the spring, do not take any of it for granted.  I still remember the winter day it hit ten below.  Yes, the cold weather is not around as long as it used to be but nature has its cycles and I simply have to observe their daily changes.

The growths are really miracles and I should not let the spring slide into summer and not notice the daily changes.  They are all miracles so do not say they do not occur.  You just have to open your eyes and see the spring unfolding.  So slow down.  They are all miracles.  Just because they happen every year does not diminish the true miracles unfolding every spring.  Do not let them pass you by.

Death Is Really Valuable

Author: siggy

Death is really valuable.  The fact that our lives are finite makes our lives that much sweeter.  What if you knew you were going to live forever; would there be any urgency to your life?  Doesn’t it make a difference knowing some day we are going to die?  And not only that.  We have no idea when.

Life becomes that much more valuable knowing it is finite.  When we are young there is the illusion we are going to live forever.  It is only an illusion, sometimes shattered when a friend close to us meets an untimely death.

I never forgot Anna Quinlan’s (the well known writer) comments.  She was in college and temporarily left to take care of her mother who was dying.  Then she returned to college with a different perspective, a keener appreciation of life.  She looked at her fellow students and considered their concerns now trivial.  Life had become very precious to her.  Her Mom died.  And the last few months she spent taking care of her illustrated to her how fragile and tenuous life really was.  She had a new found appreciation of how precious life really was.

One can not live with the notion he or she may go at any moment.  Everything is by grace.  And the awareness of the specter of death that awaits every one makes life that much sweeter and always gives you a greater appreciation of the simple things every one takes for granted.  From dust you come and from dust you shall return.  Those words in the Bible are so true.  Our society today views death as a curse.  It is really a gift so appreciate the time the Lord has given to you.  You only have one life so enjoy it and make the best of it.

The sky is dimly lit just before the dawn.  The birds are in song in full crescendo.  I am wondering when I will see the first chickadees, tufted titmouse and downy woodpeckers come to my feeders.

I am thinking about that Carolina wren that built a nest in the large pansy pot hanging from my garage door.  Yesterday before it became light I shined a flashlight into the nest–flushing the poor frightened bird who high tailed it for parts unknown–and peered into the nest spotting three tiny speckled eggs.  My wife reprimanded me for scaring the bird.  I will leave her alone now.  I want the mother to successfully raise its young and I do not want to scare it out of its wits further, possibly abandoning her eggs.

Two years in a row (the last two) an eastern phoebe built a nest just outside our front door on top of the right lamp but I guess there was too much traffic in and out the house so it abandoned the nest and raised its young somewhere else.

robineggsnestThis year a pair of robins have built a nest in the right corner in the gigantic bush.  At least twice I looked inside it but I could not spot the nest.  A few times when I walked nearby I flushed one of them.  Two robins keep feeding under our large pine tree which is somewhat unusual.  Several time I saw a robin extract a worm from the earth, toss it above its head, then gobble it down.

I love to observe the natural world around me especially the birds that come to our four feeders.  I am expectantly waiting for the first hummingbirds to come to our two feeders I have set up for them.  One is hanging from the pine tree mentioned and the other is hanging close to the window.

According to my bird journal I have kept for over five years the first one usually appears the end of April.  It is the twenty-second of April so my eyes have been continually sweeping the area outside our large living room window.  It was over a month ago the local nature columnist reported someone spotted one passing the Mason Dixon line and they would be here any day.  I put out nectar immediately after that announcement.  Well I am still waiting to spot one and already had to replace the nectar I set up and clean the feeder immediately after I noticed black mold in the feeder.  I guess they must have turned around or taken an extended stay along the way.

Watching birds give me such pleasure.  The money I spend on feed for them is worth every cent.  I love observing their antics:  they are all different.  This has been a lifetime hobby.

Life Is Simply Unfair

Author: siggy

Life is simply unfair.  Someone thinking it should be is not thinking clearly.  Life can’t possibly be fair.  Some people have more and conversely some people have less.  That is a fact of life.

Some people are incredibly talented and can almost do anything.  While others are only talented in one area of their life.  Talent is not everything either.  Some parents pushed their kid into being a doctor.  And they became a competent one but it was not where the person’s heart lay.  Maybe, the person would have become an outstanding mechanic (or artist for that matter).

Every person is dealt a specific hand.  You either like it or not.  One thing you can do is accept it and do your best with your specific situation.  Yes, life is not fair but if you rant and rail you make those around miserable not to say yourself also.

Everything is by grace.  I have no doubt about that.  So accept your station in your life and do the best you can with what you got.  You may be surprised at the results.  And I firmly believe what the Bible says:  excellence is always recognized in whatever pursuit you follow with all your heart.

And maybe, you are just good.  There is nothing wrong with good.  Good is better than half.  No matter what you do, do it honestly and do it with all the skill and energy you can muster.  Yes, life is unfair.  Play your cards you are dealt.  You will be far happier.  And in the process so will the people your life is intertwined with.  Happiness spreads and is contagious.

We need heroes in our lives because we need to know the impossible is possible, that good can triumph.

Yes, there is evil in this world but others do overcome it.  People like Mother Teresa inspire us and drive us to greater heights.

Never forget that even in quiet moments and in secret places there are others who aspire for the stars.  Often they are ordinary human beings who do not seek the spotlight.

We need to look at our own lives and seek out the quiet ones who are in the background, who are not swayed by the consistently bad reports the media puts out.

Find your heroes who every day strive for the best in others.  They are the quiet heroes, yet just as notable.

Let them inspire you to greatness.  One person can change the world but what you do you have to do with every ounce of your courage and energy.

There are heroes always among us.  Do not be one of those who bemoan the fate of this world.  You, too, can be a hero.  You never know how your actions can inspire the next generation of heroes so go out there and be a hero.

I call my wife serendipity.  I know I did nothing to deserve her.  I, also, know she is still her.  If I changed her, it is only by love and in ways I could not anticipate.

She certainly is a gift–a New Yorker in spirit.  I grew up in that area.  My editor and a fine graphic artist.  She maintains this site.  I know she complements me.  She is the reason I hop out of bed eager to face the next day.

Every night she sleeps along aside me.  And I know that is no small thing.

When I least expected it, she came along.  I had known her for several years.  She always makes me laugh.  And again that is no small thing.

She encourages me in different ways.  She makes me want to be better, to strive for the stars.  There is so much I can say about her.  These are only a few things in passing.  I am a very lucky man.