Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Is Looking Good

Spring is quite colorful around my place.

Check my photo site for a few more shots.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Quotes About Life

Laughter is the closest distance between two people.
Victor Borge

You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.
Dean Martin

You can fake an orgasm but you can’t fake laughter.
Bob Dylan

Why did you two break up?
He’s a sweet, sensitive guy who adores me.
Yeah, who would want that?
Marshal Mann and Mary Shannon, characters on In Plain Sight

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Laughter Is the Best Medicine

I don’t know who first said ‘laughter is the best medicine’ but I do believe it.

I got a three hour dose of laughter last night from three of my favorite doctors: Bill Engval, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy.

Their Blue Collar Comedy Tour has been around for several years, in the form of live events like the one I saw in Virginia, television specials and movies. Each of the comedians has a signature phrase, including “here’s your sign,” “you might just be a redneck” and “git er done.”

But their material continues to evolve and a lot of what I heard last night was new material. Each performs a solo set then all three do a combo improv based in part on audience questions.

I really heeded to laugh this week. The medicine didn’t ‘cure’ me but I do feel much better today.

Here are a few minutes from Larry the Cable Guy. Even though it’s a You Tube clip, it’s only audio, but it’s funny stuff.

And here is a short news story about the Tour.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Time and Roses

When the hell did we get so busy? By “we” I mean Americans who live in or near large cities, who have jobs with often unrealistic time expectations and who have long commutes on crowded highways.

I took this one day this week but it's typical of nearly every day.

I hate to whine, but at present, my life is like the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing off several walls, bumpers and paddles, scoring points along the way but enduring the bumping around just to stay in the game. I love my job but I hate having so much quantity on my list that I don’t have the time to do everything with the very best quality I’m capable of. I love to drive cars but I hate my commute; I can actually feel my stress level rise every morning as my garage door is rising before I’ve even begun my fifty-to-ninety minute ride to work.

This is on my mind today because I love movies and just saw one on TV. I could see a movie in a cinema every day, but I haven’t seen one in that setting since the advance screening of Da Vinci Code. How many years ago is that? Now I only have time to see parts of movies on television. The last half of 3:10 To Yuma is pretty good. I wanted to see the whole thing on the big screen when it came out a year or two ago, but I had to settle for seeing part of it while eating breakfast this morning.

One way to address the time dilemma is to prioritize our lives. If we accept that there is not enough time to do everything, we can choose those things that are most important to us and spend more of our time on those activities. Nice idea, but who has the time for that?

I’m usually an optimist and so I’m writing this post to remind myself that I usually work my way out of these negative cyclones. Around this time last year I started focusing on making time to play. It seemed like baby steps at first, but as I look back over twelve months, I actually succeeded quite well. I saw numerous concerts, rekindled my interest in live music in small venues, went to an NFL game, started watching NASCAR, college football and NFL games on TV. And I blog.

The real turning point last year was my road trip. Driving 3000 miles instead of flying forced a much slower pace. The few traffic jams I encountered didn’t bother me. I spent quality time with very special friends and family members in North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana and kept my time-specific scheduling to a minimum. In fact, I took my watch off at the first gasoline stop and didn’t wear it again till a month after I returned home.

This week I find myself in the middle of another time cyclone and I’m determined to find solutions to the problem. I won’t be taking a travel vacation till at least December, but a friend is visiting my neck of the woods this summer and I’ll be able to spend at least part of her vacay playing tour guide. I’ll try not to over-schedule; sharing wine, conversation and a concert will be the best parts. If the December trip happens as planned, it will also involve under-scheduled quality time with selected friends and family folks; wine and conversation will be somewhere in the mix.

Our lives get more hectic every year but human brains and emotions can probably adjust … IF we try to balance our time with activities we can savor and share. There is a lot to be said for those old words of wisdom: stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prayer In School?

A new round of conversation about prayer in school seems to be popping up on the internet a lot lately. I don’t comment very often on matters of religion and politics, but I will this time.

There are two major factions on this issue: those who believe in strict separation of church and state, therefore absolutely no prayer or religious reference in public schools; and those who believe we are a Christian nation and therefore should allow and encourage prayer in school, particularly Christ-based prayer.

I think both factions are right and both are wrong.

There is no state religion here, but the United States of America was founded on Christian principles and religion has always played a role in our country’s history. To ignore that is to ignore our history. But religious tolerance and acceptance of a variety of beliefs has also always been part of our country. Many of our original states were formed as havens for victims of religious persecution in other countries. We have the guaranteed right to believe what we want to believe and pray or not pray based on our own choice.

I think prayer in school should be accepted but not forced. Whose prayer? Everyone’s. If praying aloud is allowed and praying by students is led by teachers, many faiths should be represented and acknowledged, not just one … Christian, Jewish, Muslin … even Atheism. Some people do not believe in God and they have that right. An Atheist ‘prayer’ can be a moment of silence acknowledging non belief.

And students in a school setting in which prayer happens should be given the option to not participate, without ridicule from teachers or other students. In other words, prayer of any kind and all kinds should not be forced on them. They can sit out in the hall during prayers.

Exposing students to a wide variety of faith examples, accompanied by appropriate context, is a good educational experience in my opinion. Forcing only one example or banning it entirely represents extremes that miss the whole point. Amen.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life Lessons From A TV Show

I don't usually expect to find great philosophy of life quotes in a television show, especially a show I never watched. But I saw this online somewhere and thought it was worth sharing.

Did it ever occur to you that you're so caught up in trying to make the right choice that you've never stopped to consider the possibility that there may not be a right choice, or a wrong choice, just a bunch of choices? All the really exciting things in life require more courage than we currently have, a deep breath, and a leap. The kind of fear you're talking about...sometimes that’s how you know it’s worth it.

Which TV show? Dawson's Creek, which aired from 1998 to 2003.


There are snakes in the yard every spring. This one thought he could hide.

Click here to see a few more pictures of the snake and some windy shots.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Quotes on Life and Love

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction
Antione de Saint Exupery

You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.
Barbara De Angelis

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours; it is an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.
Bob Moawad

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 15, 2010

To Life

I saw Fiddler On The Roof a few nights ago at the National Theatre in DC, 3 blocks from the White House. I hadn’t seen it in more than 20 years, yet I knew all the songs. What I did not remember, and this took me by surprise, is how powerful the story is.

The plot revolves around a small town in Russia and a Jewish family in the early 1900s. Much of the play uses humor to make its points but there are sad moments too; some of them are very emotional. The themes include aging, family, politics, religious persecution and generational challenges to traditions. In other words, the story is timeless.

It amazes me that ‘arranged marriages’ were (and maybe still are) common in some cultures. Parents picked the spouses of their children. In one touching scene, Tevya and Golde, the main parents in Fiddler, point out that they first met each other on their wedding day. There was never any question that this is how things were done, but in this scene, as they look back over 25 years of marriage, one asks the other “Do you love me?” They ask it in song, but it is still a powerful scene. It was a question they never thought to ask until the first three of their five daughters break tradition and choose their own husbands.

The famous songs you might know from Fiddler include “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Tradition!” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,”and “Do You Love Me.” But one that speaks to me (ok, sings to me) more than the rest includes these lines:

Here's to our prosperity, our good health and happiness, and most important ...
To life, to life, la kayim,
La kayim, la kayim, to life,
Be happy, be healthy, long life!
And if our good fortune never comes,
Here's to whatever comes,
Drink la kayim, to life!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Random Quotes About Life

Promise me you'll always remember, you're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
- Christopher Robin to Pooh

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain

Monday, April 12, 2010


Spring is beautiful in my part of Maryland.

More pictures on my photo site.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blake and Julia

Back in the 1980s, when cable TV was still sort of new in cities, most Americans were watching shows on ABC, CBS and NBC. Two of the actors who played iconic television characters of that decade died this month.

First, it was John Forsythe , who played rich guy Blake Carrington on Dynasty, which aired on ABC from 1981 to 1989. He died on April 1st at age 92. Dynasty was the story of rich and ruthless families, and in many ways the dramatic representation of the ‘me’ generation. Forsythe was also the voice of Charlie in the Charlie’s Angels TV series in the 1970s and again in two movie versions in the 2000s. What a voice!

This week’s celebrity death is Dixie Carter, the actress who played Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women, which ran on CBS from 1986 to 1993. She also had roles on Diff’rent Strokes, Family Law and more recently on several episodes of Desperate Housewives. She was only 70 years old and the cause of death hasn’t been released. By the way, she was married to another outstanding actor Hal Holbrook.

Are you familiar with that pop culture theory that famous people die in threes? Who’s next?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Feeling Old Today?

Just in case you weren't feeling old today, let me help (thanks to my sister, who sent this to me) .........

The people who are starting college this year were born in 1992.

They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up.

Their lifetime has always included AIDS.

The CD was introduced before they were born.

They have always had an answering machine.

They have always had cable.

Jay Leno has always been on the Tonight Show.

Popcorn has always been microwaved.

They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.

They don't know who Mork was or where he was from.

They never heard: 'Where's the Beef?' or
'de plane, Boss, de plane'.

McDonald's never came in Styrofoam containers.

They don't have a clue how to use a typewriter.

Pass this on to the other old fogies on your list.

P.S. Save the earth. It's the only planet with chocolate.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Who Said It?

Did you ever read a motivational quote and wonder who said it first?

I saw this on a friend's Facebook page and thought it was elegant in it's simplicity and directness. It has a fairly effective 'feel good' quality about it.

Take chances... a lot of them. Because honestly, no matter where you end up- and with who, it always ends up just the way it should be. Your mistakes make you who you are... you learn and grow with each choice you make. Everything is worth it. Say how you feel- always. Be you...and be okay with it. It doesn't matter what any other person thinks.

Because the friend didn't mention an author, I looked for one on Google. I found many references to the quote but not one indicated an author. Maybe it was just something on a motivational poster in an office. Who knows? Actually, my question is "Do you know?"

I don't agree with everything in the quote, but the parts that work for me are:

Take chances

Your mistakes make you who you are

Be you...and be okay with it.

Interesting stuff to comtemplate on an otherwise boring evening.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


My music journey continued with a fanawesometastic show last night. If it comes to your town, you have to see the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Review, starring the Tommy Castro Band and several other blues performers who are part of each show. The ensemble I saw in Falls Church, Virginia included Deanna Bogart, Joe Louis Walker and Debbie Davies.

Tommy Castro (on guitar) and 2 of his band members

Castro is my current favorite blues act and I would have paid the bucks to see just his band, as I did a few months ago. He has been on the California blues scene for twenty years and has a growing reputation, thanks to awards, touring, TV appearances and guest shots on various blues radio outlets. His guitar work is great and he puts on a hell of a show too, so people like me like him even more after seeing his band on stage and on You Tube.

Bogart’s talent reputation has been gaining over the years nationally and internationally, but she is local too. I even knew her at one time (and should have re-introduced myself to her last night. Next time). The last time I saw her, fifteen years ago, I thought she was one of the best keyboard and sax players I had ever seen. She is even better now! Her talent draws on many different styles and her stage antics are fun and memorable.

Deanna Bogart (on sax) and Debbie Davies

Joe Louis Walker has performed with everyone from John Lee Hooker to Steve Miller to Jimi Hendrix and he has put out his own successful blues recordings for decades.

Joe Louis Walker

Debbie Davies had been a blues guitarist and singer since her youth. She performed and recorded with legends Albert Collins, John Mayall and others and has her own career going.

All of the acts were nominated for Blues Music Awards this year. The ceremony will be May 6th in Memphis.

Their own songs plus the improvisational jamming in various combinations was amazing. Four hours of fanawesometastic blues!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

My New Favorite Quote

"We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves."

-- Lynn Hall (author)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Why I Love Living Near Washington DC

This week marks my 26th anniversary as a resident of Maryland, living within 50 miles of Washington DC.

Part of why I love it here is that I can have a day like today:

- parked at a Metro station lot in the suburbs,
- took the Metro train to the Smithsonian Station in downtown DC,
- walked along the National Mall to the Tidal Basin across from the Jefferson Memorial,

- took 66 pictures of Cherry Blossoms around there and near the Washington Monument,

- had a cup of coffee at M.E. Swings Coffee Roasters, across the street from the West Wing of the White House,

- walked to another Metro station and took the train to the station nearest my office

… THEN went to my job, arriving just a little later than my usual start time.

By the way, Swings is my new favorite local coffee shop. This sign inside is part of why:

If you're ever out this way, let me know. I'll be happy to be your tour guide. At least one friend is visiting this year. Ya'll are all welcome!!

Visit my photo blog for more pictures from today and from last year.