Tonight I went to watch the sunset at Baldwin Beach. Not the Sun over water, but very nice. Picture 82 degrees, light wind off the shore, warm sand in your toes.
Then I heard the music. I contemplated getting in my car, but something drew me towards the woods. It’s unlike me to try something new these days. I will fill you in on the next blog about that. And knowing it’s probably a bunch of young kids, I didn’t feel right about intruding on their space, but I did it anyway. I missed the flaming fire dance by a few minutes (I could see it walking down the beach), but what I did get was an unrehearsed drum set, and a guy playing the banjo while a young man beat a bucket for a drum. You can’t see anything except for a light or two, but it’s all about the music. Here are the drums on the beach in the dark. Turn up your volume, close your eyes, and enjoy.
After the drums stopped, the man with a banjo started in, with a guy beating a bucket in the background. Here again, dark, but the sound is great, live.
I find myself being more withdrawn since I exited the working world. I want to change that. Because it was dark, I feel I was able to enter that world unnoticed, thereby no consequence. I think the next time I am watching the sunset from that beach, and there are drums in the woods, I am going to go over there when there is some light yet. What’s the worst that can happen?
A child reaches instinctively for their parent’s hand when crossing a busy street. A parent holds their child’s hand in a large crowd. Young lovers hold hands to show their intimacy. The aged hold hands for support. Friends hold hands to feel connected, the spiritual hold hands to connect. A newborn’s hands are held to comfort. The dying’s hand’s held tightly to prevent fear. There is much comfort in the act of holding hands.
I was reminded of this intimate human act while at the beach today. An older couple were walking and holding hands. They moved slowly, enjoying all that was around them, and they looked at peace, enjoying the feeling that someone loved them. The reason it stood out to me, was that it’s a rare thing to see these days. Whether it’s out of fear of too much display of intimacy, or there is none, or in this day of information overload, we don’t take the time to feel that connection with another.
As you probably know, humans give off an aura and an electrical charge, with positively and negatively charged protons and electrons. We have all had that zap handshake, or someone zapping your ear with static electricity. I think that when you hold another’s hand, a synergy is created of electrical power. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Or the connection itself can charge another when they are in need. That is why holding hands is such a comfort. When you are hurt, emotionally or physically, you are in energy deficit. Holding another who is stronger than you at that point will give you the strength to heal.
My son is just now starting to not want to hold hands when going places. He has always been a touch-type person and wanted to hold hands when walking into strange places or when he gets a bit fearful. Now he ignores my hand when I reach for his, a sign that he has found strength on his own, and doesn’t need the comfort anymore. That makes me tremendously sad. I am going to miss that touch. My daughter, on the other hand, never wanted to hold hands. You would have had to handcuff her in order to do it. I was fortunate that my son wanted to because that’s how I am.
What greater pleasure in life than when your baby grasps your hand tightly. Or a new crush reaches for your hand on a date. Or your parent’s hands. The ones that held yours so tightly to protect, comfort, guide and love you. Or the lingering handshake of an old trusted friend. Hands are more than a tool. They are your expression. Don’t underestimate this power. You need to look no further than Michelangelo’s painting of the “The Creation of Adam” in 1510 to see the tremendous power of touch.
As I write this, I am remembering all the many times I have held hands, and how it affected me at the time. It is one true memory with no negativity. There has never been a time when I have held another’s hand and regretted doing it. I can’t say that about many, if any, memory.
I wish I had held my Mom’s hands more when I could. I wish my Dad was here to hold mine when I need it. I wish my kids still wanted me to hold their hands. I wish I had held the hands more of the ones I truly loved. I guess I do have one regret.
The day started just like most, my daughter complaining about her brother in the back seat, window rolled down, trying to spit without smearing the window behind him (didn’t work so well yesterday). “Why do boys spit so much?” she asked her all knowledgeable Dad. “Just because I said” Good answer I thought.
After we dropped her off (much to her relief), my son climbing in the shotgun position next to me as usual, and our conversation turned to cars. (Again). “Dad” he starts,” I think I am going to settle for a Ferarri instead of a Lamborghini or Bugatti”. This is a big decision for him. All he has talked about for the last year has been supercars, and how he is going to get one when he gets his license. I, of course, go along with it knowing he will figure it out when he gets older (I hope). He looks at them online, knows where all the dealerships are, and his idea of a perfect vacation is flying to LA and going to the supercar dealership there. That would make him happy (until the next thing).
The joke between us is that I have threatened to give him my old Honda Pilot when the time comes for him to drive. He thinks I was joking but with a hint of it in his head that I would actually do it. When I sold it, I think it was a big relief for him. He was into Range Rovers at the time, and I told him that I would buy Range Rover decals and paste on the Pilot, and none of his friends would know the difference. He saw right through that one.
He is experimenting turning the wheel as I drive on the way to his school. He says it’s practice for when I have a heart attack, and he has to take over to avoid a crash. He says the only thing I have to do is step on the brake, which he will yell for me to do when I have it. He also says he will drive me to the nursing home when I am eighty. Good kid for sure. But I will have to get used to riding in his Ferarri, and he says he is going to go pretty fast. Then I drop him off at school. (much to my relief).
That gets me to thinking about my first car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS. I got it the same day I turned 16, the same day I passed my driver’s license test, the same day as my first ever date with a girl. That was a big day. My parents had bought it for my Mom the previous year with the intention of giving it to me. (Hey, they were only in their 40’s). I loved that car, although it had the smaller engine of the models. Which was probably a good thing. My first week I had the car, I rear-ended a teacher at my school when he stopped in the middle of the street to pick up a hitchhiker, and I was fiddling with the radio. We were going pretty slow, didn’t cause much damage, but it taught me never to look away from the road, and my parents weren’t mad at all.
The car had a quirk of going into full acceleration if I made a left turn too fast. The gas pedal would go all the way to the floor, even in town. Many mechanics looked at the car, said it was in my head, so I just got used to driving it that way. About a year later, I hung around with some gearheads whose Dad owned a service station, and we figured it out. It had a broken motor mount, and the engine would tip over when making a left, pulling the cable to the gas pedal. We also figured out how it broke. Because the car was too underpowered for me, in order to squeal the tires I had to power brake it (holding the brake and gas down at the same time to rev up the engine). Kids.
The memories of my first car are endless, from my first girlfriend (wish it had a bench seat in front), to friends going to games, beating the loop (in town), going to the A & W to eat, playing music as loud as I could, all the windows down, hair blowing in the wind, and just being free like only a car can give you. A nice car at that age gives you status, and I think maybe I went up the scale from being a farm kid to having a very cool car. I was pretty much ignored by girls up until then. That soon changed, but that’s another story. Can you remember your first car and the memories you made? I bet you can.
My first girlfriend named my car, which I can’t remember. I think it’s a little late to give her a call and ask her what it was.
My daughter,14, has no interest in cars and driving. I will want her to get something safe (and slow). But no matter what I have to do, I am going to make sure my son gets a very cool car as his first car (no, not a supercar). A car defines you in a way, I should know, working in the car business for 28 years, we could accurately guess the personality of the owner by the car they drive. (And sell them accordingly). I don’t want him to be labeled as a nerd (sorry Prius owners), or poor, or mean, or dumb, or stuck up. I want him to feel good about what he drives, just like I did.
Whatever happened to the Camaro? Well, cars in those days don’t last as long as today, and we ended up selling it for $800. I moved on to a convertible. I sure wish I still had it today. One thing I know for sure. It would be worth a whole lot more than a Jim Beam bottle collection……
At least three days a week I bring my kids to school. My daughter’s school is about five minutes from my house and my son’s about 20 minutes from there. So for the first five minutes, it’s trying to keep my daughter from being annoyed with her younger brother. He is coughing, spitting and passing gas. She sits in the front, him in the back. After I drop her off, he climbs through the seats to sit up front. That gives us twenty minutes of quality time driving a winding road to his school through the tropical forest.
I let him pick the subject, which is usually something he wants to buy. Like a surfboard, or a bike, or new sneakers, or a skateboard ramp. He’s a shopper, what can I say. Likes to spend his time looking on Amazon. So this morning started out no different for about five minutes, then to the conversation about how he misses the home we just moved from. He talks about that a lot too. His childhood home, the only one he has ever known. Unless you are still living in your parent’s basement, we have all been there.
I grew up in a very large five bedroom home on the farm my Dad owned. I have always thought of that time as Camelot. My childhood was wonderful. My parents finally sold that home when I was about 25. Even though I hadn’t been living there for a few years, it was tough on me I won’t deny. Although the reason was economic for them, I guess I still resented the circumstances, not them, that separated me from that house. As I sit here typing this out, I can recall every room, the tiled floor, the big living room windows, my single bed, the dishes in the cupboard. To tell you the truth, I can probably remember more right now than I did my whole life. Funny, isn’t it.
As we were talking about him missing his childhood home, I asked him what memories he cherished from there. I had to rephrase, what does he remember? He started talking about the neighbors, the kids that moved away, his stuff. When I asked him specifically what he remembers, he said he didn’t remember a whole lot. We are talking Holiday’s, Birthdays, his room, our dog, the smell of the kitchen, the colors of the living room. It’s only been a few months. I don’t think it’s not because he doesn’t remember, he just never paid that much attention.
Is that any different than any of us? When we were kids, we weren’t aware of the things it takes to run a house, the bills, the planning for Holidays, the arguments, the drama, the day to day. We had enough stuff of our own to worry about. Sure, he misses the safety of something tangible. Something familiar. That home was his rock, the walls his castle, his room the shelter from all harm. I have a sneaky suspicion that his memory will improve as he gets older and experiences running a house of his own. When he worries about what couch matches the carpet, the color to paint the babies room. Right now, it doesn’t matter. He misses his home, and I will comfort him in that.
After I dropped him off, I spent some time thinking about my memories of my childhood home. I remember the clothes in my closet, my Mom cooking in the kitchen, my Dad coming home for lunch, the first night I got home late, working on my car in the garage, the huge Christmas tree we had every year. All the presents. Then I realized it wasn’t the home that I remembered or missed, it was the memories of family. The home was just a representation of the family. And we all have a different interpretation of the same event. What I remember is probably very different than my two sister’s memories.
Whenever I hear “I’ll be home for Christmas” I cry. It’s the knowing I can never go back to those times, not to the home, but to my family frozen in that time. Someday I’m sure my son will think back and remember the times with his family as we were. He is young and just starting making his memories. My only job is to make sure he remembers the good ones and understands the bad ones.
I think of this every now and then. I picture someone shaking me awake, and I open my eyes to see my parents when they were young, looking down together at me in my little bed, and I, a boy, coming out of a dream. The dream of everything that has happened in my life. And I think to myself as that boy. “It was just a dream. All of it. My parents are here, I am here, everything is ok.” What I wouldn’t give for that to be real.
When school was done for the day, I picked my daughter up first, and we had some time to talk. I mentioned that her brother and I had talked about our old house, and I asked her what she remembered, and specifically, what was her fondest memory. She couldn’t pinpoint anything, so I mentioned Christmas, and she said…….all the presents.
Here is another revisit from the past. On my first trip to Maui in 1993, I took a helicopter tour. One of the places we flew over was Iao Valley. Looking down, and scared to death, I thought I would like to see the Valley from the safety of the ground. That trip I never got there, or in the subsequent 24 years of trips to Maui. When I moved here about 10 months ago, I wanted to go see it, top of my list of things I wanted to do, but the park was closed due to a flash flood that washed away some of the road and trails.
So my kids woke up bored this morning, didn’t want to go to the beach or really do much of anything. (Bored in Maui, imagine). I poked around on the online Maui guidebook and saw that the park was opened last month. It’s been closed since September of 2016. That’s where we headed the bumper.
Even though it’s only about a 10-minute drive from Wailuku, one of the main cities in Maui, it a gorgeous drive. Take a look.
It was made a National Natural Landmark in 1972 but goes way farther back than that. It was here that the Maui army was defeated in 1790. It’s in a rainforest, and the head of it gets about 386 inches of rain a year, which makes for some treacherous waters at times in the stream. The needle, for which it is famous for, rises 1200 feet above the park floor, and 2250 above sea level. It’s quite a hike up to the lookout point, but well worth it. (And you get a little exercise). Here’s the view from the lookout.
When you get to the top parking lot, which there are more cars than spots, there is a little hut where you pay for the park. $5 bucks for tourists, free if you live in Maui. This attendant had at least 20 years on me. (Might be a good job for me when he retires in 10 years or so). You pretty much park where you feel like it, which goes for all of Maui.
Only a few tourists worked their way to the lookout, like us, and were snapping pictures, but the bulk of people in the park you could tell were local. And they were jumping off rocks into the river just below the lookout.
When we were done, we headed back towards town and stopped at the Gardens which is part of the park (only a few blocks from the top) which had easy access to the river and about 5 or 6 Pavillions. We found a spot to park and headed to the river.
Now here is the really neat thing about Maui and the Hawaiian people. They don’t have parks so a bunch of tourists can come and snap a few pictures, buy some worthless souvenirs (no gift shop here), and steal a rock or a shell. They use the park for their enjoyment. For parties, weddings, birthdays, reunions. The Pavillions were packed with people, and cakes, and balloons, and barbeques, and beer. This is the way it should be. Don’t just save it for the next generation, but show them how to enjoy it. I like that. Here is how they enjoy a beautiful Sunday in the river at the park.
Even though we didn’t bring swimsuits, we waded in the river getting wet. The lesson for the day……Enjoy what you have, where you are, who you are, enjoy your life.
My last blog was self-pity about never winning anything. Wouldn’t you know that same night I would win the grand prize at my Son’s school? Must be Karma, which I so eloquently discussed in an earlier time.
Tonight I took my Son to a movie night at his school. Being from Minnesota, I would imagine this would be an inside event. Not in Maui. Outside, under the stars, no bugs, 80 degrees, perfect to be sure. The movie was Finding Dory, which I think I was the only person who has never seen it because I think out of the 200 plus people there, I was the only one watching.
When we got there, it was the usual contribution of entry, raffle, and food. About 30 bucks worth. The five bucks I put in for the raffle was for the 8th-grade class trip, a worthy cause to be sure. I rarely saw my son the 2 1/2 hours we were there, he was busy with friends. He came back when the movie ended, and the drawing began. Now keep in mind I have been touting a no-win anything policy for years. I expected the same.
The three names were pulled for prizes. Leftover pizza and glow sticks. The next name was drawn, a $20 gift card to an unnamed pizza palace. And the grand prize winner of a $250 gift card to a small boutique inn, which is about a half mile from the school, is me. My son went nuts, jumping up and down and running down to the front to get the huge prize.
What makes this so special is that we were looking at the ticket together, and when the numbers were called, to my son it was like winning the Powerball.
I proudly followed him down to collect the bounty from his previous 4th-grade teacher, who was now the principal this year. I grabbed the envelope, and our beach chairs and went back to the car to drive home in the dark. Once inside, I flipped on the interior lights and had him open the envelope to savor the win.
Dad, he asked, ” What does it mean rooms only, excludes food, drink, and blackout dates?”
Son, I said,” It means we just got juked.”
Now if you don’t know what juked means, you are definitely in need of updating. It means to make a move intending to deceive.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that the school gets donations. they have to make a lot of pieces work with a certain amount of funds. The prizes were donated from local establishments, probably from someone who has a kid in school there. That’s great. But do you think that giving a night out at a local hotel means a whole lot to the locals? No food, no drink?
My son knew where the place was, and he showed me it on the way back from the movie night. It’s a tiny inn, right in town, no beach, no pool, kind of scary if you ask me. I looked it up online and see that $250 might cover one night. I would be afraid to stay there for a couple of hours.
Do you know what makes this the greatest win of all? My son and I had a moment. We bonded over the absurdity of the offer. No food, no drink. No value. We laughed that it had no value to us. We looked into each other’s eyes and connected. That was the true prize.
We got a free room back in Minnesota once. It was a TV promotion. We went to the pool for a couple of hours and then went home. The kids get it. Thank you for his school for bringing kids and parents and life together. I might not be in the market for an iffy motel at this time, but you never know.
The first thing you realize when you stop the 9 to 5 (in my case 8 to 8) is that you have way more time than money. So with all that time, you fill some of those hours looking for things you can win. That’s what I started doing about a year ago when I still lived in Minnesota.
There are two ways to go about trying to win something, pay to play, or sign up for free contests and sweepstakes. There are lotteries, scratch off tickets, raffles, casino’s and more all vying for your dollar. That can get pretty expensive, and it never worked for me.
I learned my casino lesson many years ago, in Las Vegas. One New Years when I was about 25, 3 of my buddies and I went for 5 days over New Years, a guys trip. None of us had any real money, I had $400 bucks. I didn’t have a credit card, which was a blessing. The first day we were there I headed up the strip, found myself a “Loose Slots” type of casino, and parked myself at a dollar machine. The only thing “Loose” that day was me, and two hours later the only thing I had left in my pockets was Kleenex. Every last dime. I did learn something about Las Vegas that trip. It’s no fun being broke there. My buddies were kind enough to buy me food and a few drinks the rest of the trip but refused to lend me any money to gamble. Those are good friends, even though I didn’t think so at the time. I have not gambled at a casino since.
I was never into scratch offs or raffles either. The lottery interested me because of the huge amount of money you could win. So I faithfully bought my tickets every week, about $10 worth, and sometimes more when the pot got really big. So let’s say it averages out to about $60 a month. $720 a year. 32 years of playing in Minnesota- $23,040 total. How much I have won? My biggest win was $25. Maybe all told $300 or $400 bucks. So I have spent in my lifetime almost $23,000, no wasted that money. Hawaii doesn’t allow the lottery here, and I bought my last tickets before I got on the plane to come here after I sold my house. I was kind of whining about it to my sister after I moved, and she gave me the greatest advice. “If you always think in the back of your mind that you will win a bunch of money, that alone will prevent you from giving all your effort into something else”. She is absolutely right. Take it from someone who had that problem. Gambling is a zero-sum game. They end up with the sum, you end up with zero.
But before she turned on the lightbulb for me, I spent time poking around on the internet for contest and sweepstakes, the free kind. And there are hundreds of them. Trouble is, most of them are scams to get your email address and try to sell you something. The latest is a few websites get together, come up with a contest, and you enter but are also agreeing to get emails from them. That’s fine if you want a bunch of stuff in your email every day. I don’t. I can tell you right now that in the year of entering this stuff and unsubscribing from hundreds of offers, I haven’t so much as won a pencil. Save yourself a lot of time, and don’t bother. You can follow my sister’s advice on this one too.
That brings us to the holy grail of sweepstakes, Publishers Clearing House’s ten million dollar prize. I always envisioned them pulling their van up to my door, flowers in hand walking to my door, then asking me if the neighbor was home because they won the prize. Have you ever noticed that the big prize keeps getting postponed every few months? This is another sweepstakes designed to get you on their list, keep you involved, and keep trying to sell you magazines. I broke up with them too.
The reason for all this information which you could care less about is I do believe in a couple of things you should enter. One, because I never win anything and I would like someone I know to win them. Second, these are the real deal. No spam, no trying to sell you something. And they actually give out the prizes. And time is running out quickly, so get your entry in if you haven’t already.
The first one is HGTV’s home giveaway. This year it’s a lake home in Vermont and $50,000 in cash. The value of the whole thing is over a million. This one ends on Sept 27th. Just go to HGTV or DIY (Do it yourself) to enter. You get two entries per day. If you win, maybe I can come freeload for a while.
Another one is Great American Country. They are giving away $25,000. That one ends in 3 days. Again, legit and no spam.
The final one is Ford Motor Company. This one goes until Oct. 8th, and you only get one entry. You can either win a brand new Ford Edge or a trip out East. This contest is teamed up with a charity, so it’s a good cause too. Here’s the link: www.hallmarkchannel.com/warriorsinpink
Right about now you are probably thinking why am I wasting my time on this stuff, and I should be following my sister’s great advice. Old habits die hard. Nothing in life is free. Time is the most precious commodity we have, and I have certainly given up more than my share wasting it on trying to win something.
My kids think this is weird, but I like to watch the finale of shows on TV. I don’t really watch much of the season, but like to see the end. Except for Survivor, that is one show I have never missed. (Kind of reminds me of working at a corporation).
Last night I watched the finale of America’s Got Talent. Wow, all the contestants were great, and they all had big of stories to go along with their talent. One of the contestants had been deaf for 10 years, and sang and played the guitar beautifully. Her name is Mandy.She couldn’t hear a word she sang, a note from her guitar, the audience applause or the judges praise. It was nothing short of remarkable.I, of course, got a tear in my eye, and my son thought I was too emotional. (I probably was).
It’s funny, but I had been thinking of sounds all day. It started at the beach when I walked past someone with earbuds connected to their phone, maybe listening to music, maybe something else. I have seen this many times, and always thought “don’t they want to hear the ocean and the wind?” Isn’t that part of the beach and nature experience? What if you couldn’t hear those things? That’s a lot different than not wanting to or oblivious to them.
I have really only spent time with one deaf person in my life. I will call him John because I can’t remember his real name. (That might be it after all). My best friend and I inherited him one summer when we were in our early twenties. He just kind of showed up at our door one day, and we somehow spent the next three months carting him around with us. (He didn’t have a car).
That summer I drove a huge 1-ton cargo van, painted Zebra stiped. (Got a lot of looks). It had no seats in the back, except for lawnchairs we would put back there when we were in party mode. Well, John sat in the middle of the one front bench seat, and my friend and I would turn our heads towards the windows and talk if we wanted to say something that we didn’t want him to hear. One day we were driving along, and a tire wrench fell from its perch on the side of the cargo area, and John turned his head immediately upon its crash on the floor. From that day on, my friend and I weren’t so sure he wasn’t faking it, so out window conversations stopped until the end of the summer when he moved away. I have always felt guilty about that.
Yesterday after I picked the kids up from school, my son and I went to the park so he could play basketball with some friends. I laid back on the grass in the shade, closed my eyes, and just listened. I heard kids laughing, screaming, crying, dogs barking, leaves rustling, cars going by, sirens, skateboards rolling, basketballs dribbling, birds singing, wind blowing, parents talking, a plane going roaring overhead. Quite frankly, it was overwhelming, the amount of layers in sound. I know they talk about it in music, but it’s right here in life.
I take my hearing for granted. I’m a visual person, and to me, a sound is an add-on to complete the picture. But what if I couldn’t hear? Think of all the milestones in my life that I would have missed. I can’t even begin to list them. My Mom reading me stories, my Dad and I talking while fishing, endless conversations with friends, my babies first cry, every time my kids call me Dad, laughter, my dog barking, cat purring and all the sounds of nature. A sound is a miracle.
One of my favorite sounds is the sound of doves cooing outside my open windows every day. I guess if I had to pick one sound I was aware of and appreciate, this is it.
I feel guilty now for sleeping with a fan or a white noise sound machine to cover up night sounds. I feel guilty for taking my hearing for granted (even though my hearing is pretty weak in one ear). I feel guilty that someone else might not be able to hear the things I can.
We should pay more attention to the miracles in our life. Sounds and the ability to hear them is one of them. I think I have been missing out on this gift to me. From now on, I am going to stop and listen more often.
I think we all remember being a kid. At times awkward, self-conscious, and struggling with our identity.
Short Bert is that kid in all of us. A little insecure, a little different, and with a big heart. All kids want to fit in and do what’s right. Short Bert accepts who he is. He will grow up to be a fine young man.
For my second children’s book, I wanted to do something lighter than Imagine Me. That book was meant to be read to a child, Short Bert is one that they can read themselves.
I haven’t published it yet. But it’s yours to enjoy by going to the Short Bert link in the menu at the top of the page.
Have your special kid read it to you, and let me know what they think. It’s way more important than what we think………………