Commentary

Fri
16
Aug
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Faces & Places

"Flowers always make people better, happier; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul." -Luther Burbank

At first glance, it looked like a gardener meant to draw attention to the hundreds of fresh roses of every color: red, orange, yellow, pink, lavender, white; breathtaking beauty surrounded by a blessed fragrance of joy that could almost lift a person off the ground. A wide-brimmed straw hat pulled low concealed anything from the shoulders up, perhaps giving the illusion of being overtaken by such pleasure.

The "gardener" looked up and said, "Beautiful, aren't they?"

"Indeed, they are, but you startled me. I thought you were a prop." I replied. We both laughed.

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Fri
16
Aug
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Albatrosses

There’s always that one building. So many towns have them. It stands out like a sore thumb. It might be the tallest building in the community. Maybe it’s the square footage. Maybe it’s the location. It’s vacant. It has been vacant for decades. When someone comes to town, they immediately notice THAT building. Even as other buildings around town are restored, that one building still stands out. It feels like an albatross on the community’s revitalization. If a building could talk, it seems like the building is saying “good work on those other buildings, but you still haven’t restored ME.”

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Fri
09
Aug
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Faces & Places

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson It looked like we were both going to get to the entrance to McDonald’s about the same time. I decided to take a step back and let her go first. Only the two shoulder seams kept the tattered man’s tee-shirt she was wearing from falling off. The imprinted American flag’s once-vibrant colors could hardly be seen; faded like the color in her face. Her white lace bra highlighted her rolls of caramel skin for the saucer-eyed spectators to gawk at. It was a sight you might expect to see in a low budget film.

Fri
09
Aug
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Downtowns Alive

Last week, I began a discussion of vacant buildings. All of our communities have them, usually in larger numbers than we want. Some buildings have been vacant for years, maybe even decades. They stand as a remnant of a town’s peak population many years ago or a once-powerful business or industry that packed up and left. Other vacancies are newer: an older business owner finally retired or a new business popped up but didn’t make it. Our towns also have many vacant houses: the resident moved away or died and were simply never replaced.

Fri
02
Aug
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Observations after Wheel Chair

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The thing about having a temporary setback (like my broken foot) is when you start telling someone about your situation, many of them will start telling you their experiences with broken bones that make yours seem trivial. I was in a wheel chair for about 4 months. During that time, some people totally ignored me. Wouldn’t even look at me. When we would see people we know they would go right to my wife Susan instead of me and ask, “What happened?” Sometimes she would reply, “Ask him.” Occasionally someone would ask, “Did she kick you?” I can’t believe so many people asked that. Some asked, “Wanna play soccer?” “Wanna kick some field goals?”

Fri
02
Aug
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Writing your life story

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GARY W MOORE

I write and speak for a living. When I’m on a book tour, I hear it all the time. At every book event, at least one person will enthusiastically tell me they are going to write a

book. I think they all believe they will do it, but I am only aware of two, out of the hundreds of others who have completed the task. I am always encouraging. I think there is a book that every person should write but few will. I believe everyone should write the story of their life. Think about this …

When a person dies, its as if a valuable library burns to the ground, with thousands of one-of-a-kind history books. The only person who can preserve your library is you.

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Fri
26
Jul
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Faces & Places

“I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow.” ~ Voltaire

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I’m writing about a Black Widow Spider. Who does that? I do. If you live it, you get to write about it. Texas Edited Version:

The trees were whirling like they do when the atmosphere is unstable. Dirt devils were popping up in the cotton fields. I popped the door, jumped in the driver’s seat, and fastened my seatbelt. Looking up to start the engine, brought me eyeball to beady little red eyeball with a Black Widow as big as a half dollar. She raised one long hairy leg, motioning me to come closer.

“I am Spider Grandmother. Perhaps you’ve heard of my great, great, great, great, great, great, great-grandson, the superhero who walks on walls and is known for his superior webbing ability?”

“Why shore ‘nuff’ who hasn’t?” said I.

Fri
26
Jul
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Ready, Aim, Fire

John Wesley Powell was an American scientist, soldier, and explorer. He lost most of one arm to a rifle bullet at the Battle of Shiloh in the American Civil War and though this injury pained Major Powell the rest of his life, it didn’t stop him. In 1869, armed with nine men and four dubious wooden boats, he set out to map the unexplored parts of the Colorado River. That journey is a tale within itself (and many books have been written to that effect), but three months later, Powell’s group became the first to navigate the Colorado River all the way through the treacherous, mysterious Grand Canyon. Powell would devote rest of his life to the American West, as a geologist, ethnographer, and chief of the U.S. Geological Survey as it undertook the audacious goal to map the entire Western United States.

Fri
19
Jul
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Faces & Places

“I need to learn to keep a quiet heart. To trust that if God has allowed an interruption in my day, it serves a purpose. To believe that the time to finish what work I thought needed to be done will be given. To accept that He is diverting me from my 'plan A' to His greater plan.” Karen Ehman The cows, cats, and dogs had been fed, as the sun was making its appearance, yawning and stretching to spread light over the cotton fields between our home on the hill, and the small town of a thousand people, give or take a few. I swept off the never-ending flow of red dirt from the front porch, watered my bright red geraniums I’ve been working hard to save from the hot wind. I picked up pieces of who knows what or who knows where it came from, that the bird dog loves to chew into tiny pieces. I scolded him again, but for some reason known only to the canine world, he just keeps bringing it. Supper was in the crockpot with little effort from me.

Fri
19
Jul
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What is West of 98?

Essays from West of 98

As you know, my essays are identified as “from West of 98.” You’ve also no doubt seen that my bio promises the “forthcoming ‘West of 98’ podcast and website.” Occasionally, I receive questions about the meaning behind “West of 98.” Today, I want to share that meaning in this space and also share with you my coming plans.

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