Sunday, February 18, 2018

First Sunday of Lent: Breaking Through the Ice

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
-Henry David Thoreau

Lent. How many of these have I been through now? I became a Christian at age fifteen so that means my first Lent was spring of 1964. Of course as a Baptist we didn’t talk much about the church year like that, but I must have known something. That was a much different religious environment than we have today.

As I grew into a broader and more “liturgical” model of the faith I learned that Lent was about sacrifice and even suffering. After all, that is what Jesus did. That comes from an attitude that we have to tame the things of the body so the things of the spirit can grow. This is an outgrowth of what amounts to a more Greek than Hebrew understanding that says:

Thoreau would probably not agree with that, at least in the ways we often mean it. I picked the quote at the top of the post for this First Sunday of Lent to bring into light the idea that heaven is more than a place we go after this life and the earth is as much a part of our heaven as heaven itself, whatever that may be. This quote comes from Chapter 16 of Walden, titled “The Pond in Winter.” The chapter begins:

I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed, seemed to say, Forward! Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution. "O Prince, our eyes contemplate with admiration and transmit to the soul the wonderful and varied spectacle of this universe. The night veils without doubt a part of this glorious creation; but day comes to reveal to us this great work, which extends from earth even into the plains of the ether. [Emphasis added.]
Nature itself is the answered question; the glorious creation, “this great work” extends to the limits of the universe. Even in the midst of the coldest time of the year, Thoreau decided that much was going on that is the Creation itself. He continues:
Then to my morning work. First I take an axe and pail and go in search of water, if that be not a dream. … Every winter the liquid and trembling surface of the pond, which was so sensitive to every breath, and reflected every light and shadow, becomes solid to the depth of a foot or a foot and a half… it closes its eyelids and becomes dormant for three months or more.
The pond is not just some geographic occurrence. Thoreau senses that there is life there. Even at great depths. Many thought it bottomless but he will show more than that. Later in this chapter he will tell of his method of measuring its depth through an understanding of other measurements.  He will look at the water of Walden Pond as being part of all the waters of all the earth. He will understand that in some way more mysterious than magical, all creation is connected. The pond is now like a field.

Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture amid the hills, I cut my way first through a foot of snow, and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by a softened light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer; there a perennial waveless serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants. Heaven is under our feet is well as over our heads.

Thoreau, in chapter 16, has rediscovered the spiritual under the material. He may have been fooled for awhile by the coldness and seeming lifelessness of winter. In this morning’s awakening he has the answer. Has he cut through his winter state, as the Cliff Notes suggest? Is he now about to open up to find new insight and new spiritual direction? It would seem that way. He has, in the metaphor of looking into the window under his feet, discovered himself and his own soul, alive and well. Heaven is not just some far off place, it is accessible here.

It does take work to get there, though. He had to cut through the soft snow covering and then the thicker, solid layer. Then he can drink from the source. It does not come either naturally or even easily. Our lives, our souls, are like the water beneath Walden Pond. Covered with soft and hard layers. These are the layers we have allowed to accumulate over our spirits. These are what we have felt the need to build in order to protect something we are afraid is too fragile- or perhaps too dangerous- for us to easily touch it. Perhaps there is more to this than that as well. Or perhaps we make too much of it.

Why is is that it takes us so long to become spiritual. I don’t mean religious. We easily and willingly follow rituals, especially ones of our own making. Even those who abhor ritual will do the same things over and over in a kind of religious fervor. Those rituals can and do keep us grounded; but they can also keep us frozen in place. It is when we dig through and discover the window into who we are and what Creation is that we can move beyond ritual into the spiritual.

Don’t get me wrong. I love liturgy and ritual. That is why, even all these years after having left the ministry of preaching I am compelled every Advent and Lent to write about them, to seek new answers and new questions to explore. In that I am part of a long history, my own of 54 years as a Jesus follower and the journey of other followers of Jesus for nearly two millennia.

It has a different meaning today. It was at one point all about some sacrifice on my part. It  meant giving up something, some symbolic action that showed I was serious about being a Christian. We didn’t put it that way, of course, but that was part of what we were doing. Now I write. I pray and ponder some very simple and even simplistic prayers. In the complexity of all that is happening in the world, I need to come back down to earth. I need to look around and find God in the details of every day living and my soul under the mid-winter layer of snow and ice. That snow and ice is not always of my own making. The world pushes and prods, undermines and challenges what I understand as the things that we as Christians are to stand up for. It can get mighty cold and frightening.

These are difficult times we live in. But then again, what times aren’t difficult if one is serious about finding the ways of God as one understands God? What times are not difficult when we are constantly searching for ways to be faithful to the Creator and the Creation? What times are not difficult when we are being pulled away from the task of being more fully in touch with eternity? Which is why we need a Lenten Journey every year.

Adopt the pace of nature:
her secret is patience.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Literal or Serious? (2)

Yesterday I wrote about the statement that has been given as a way of "explaining Trump", at least from his supporters side. (See below for the whole post.) I said then:

Trump's critics take him literally while his supporters take him seriously.
The obvious inference is that when Trump speaks, don't take him literally- but take him seriously?
I talked then about how I might not often take him "literally" but I do take him very seriously. In fact, personally, I find the distinction quite difficult to understand. I believe many of his supporters do take him literally. For one, I have talked to enough of them who do believe what he says about, for example, his famous campaign line, "Lock her up!" or his recent agreeing with someone yelling out at a rally that not standing for him at the State of the Union was "treason." When he said it they believed it. Literally and very, very seriously.

But the other reason I think this is a false understanding and even a "straw man argument" is simple. Many of his staunchest supporters, his unshakeable 30% are Evangelical Fundamentalist "Christians". If there is one thing that Evangelical Fundamentalists believe beyond anything else is....

the literal, word for word interpretation of the Bible. They are well schooled in knowing when to literally believe something literally. And that is when it fits their beliefs.
  • They believed that Obama was literally going to come for their guns. They took it so literally they were serious about it. 
  • They believed that Obama was born in Kenya. Literally! It was not just some crazy right-wing extremist idea. When Trump said it, they believed it.
  • They believed some crazy-ass conspiracy theory that Hillary was supporting some pedophile ring out of a pizzeria. Or worse, that there was some uranium-selling deal she fostered through her emails. Fox News said it, they believed it.
That is just the tip of the iceberg I am afraid. There is a very strong undercurrent like this running around the country. Trump feeds it. He himself may not believe all this shit literally, of course. But he has enough people convinced that the FBI is the "bad guys" and the our judicial system is out to get him that it is a literal understanding. Trump's critics don't take that literally. Many believe he is just throwing things out as a smoke-screen or diversion.

The real serious stuff is not what Trump says in his daily mega-tweets. It is what he wants to do to significantly change the social support structure of our country that we have been building little by little over the past 85 years and others that go back to the beginning of last century. He plays loose with facts, but who cares. He said it, it must be true.

Broadcast and cable news has had a very difficult time dealing with this. He is so good for sound bites, they all know it helps their ratings. Whether it's MSNBC yelling on the Left or Fox and others on the Right, they love the hype. The evening news shows, just as dependent on sound bites and good video, have the same issue.

Fortunately the print news has, overall, done a great job of trying to do the digging and publishing. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian have broken stories and dug into the depths they are taking this all very seriously and doing some difficult work. (Go see the movie The Post to see how the print media, esp. the Washington Post, stood up to a previous president who wanted to shut them down.)

It is time those of us on the Left do take Trump seriously and stop egging on his insane posting and statements. It is time for people like Stephen Colbert (who I enjoy at times) to stop making jokes that only serve to make him look like a buffoon we don't have to take seriously and instead focus on what he is doing.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a contemporary of Henry David Thoreau once wrote
Your actions speak so loudly that we cannot hear what you are saying.
 Trump, so far, has been able to hide some of his actions by the loudness of his words. Let's move from that and see that his actions get more of the light of day they deserve.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Literal or Serious? (1)

One of the comments I heard during the last Presidential campaign and in the first year of the Trump Presidency was that

Trump's critics take him literally while his supporters take him seriously.
The obvious inference is that when Trump speaks, don't take him literally- but take him seriously?

Seriously? But I do understand.

When he said that Mexico sends us the bad people (and maybe a few good ones), I knew what he meant and I took him seriously. He was playing to the crowd who didn't like Hispanics! I didn't think that was a good thing- but I took him very seriously!

When he said that we need to prevent immigrants from Muslim-majority countries entering the United States, I knew what he meant and I took him seriously. He was playing to Islamophobia and the fear of terrorist attacks, which there have been very few of. I disagreed with his presumptions and prejudice- but I took him seriously.

When he said he was elected to be President of Pittsburgh and not Paris and that we need to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreements, I knew what he meant and I took him seriously. He does not believe that global climate change is real (or of human causation) and we should not burden our country with trying to do anything about it. I disagreed with him- but I took him seriously.

It is clear that he is good at hyperbole and speaking to a clear constituency. It is clear that he may say things that sound over-the-top, but that he is clearly telling his supporters and all of us what he means. The news media in general loves sound bites and he is an expert at giving them what they want. Twitter is the new headline maker. But they get hung up on the ridiculous, self-serving ways he says it and the real meaning does get lost.

Through it all, he is serious. I take him seriously. Some feel he is a sloppy communicator. I don't think so. He really does know what he is doing and is enjoying every minute of the spotlight and attention.

Which is why I don't like what he wants to do. He makes it clear in many ways.
  • Cut Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Huge tax cuts that in the long run will help the top 1% and hurt the rest of us.
  • Huge budget deficits. I know, people talk about the "Tax and Spend" Democrats. The Republicans are, for sure, different than that. They just Spend without adding to the taxes, lining pockets until we are bankrupt as a nation.
  • Talking about "due process" when he has been known to make statements undermining such due process.
  • Increase the "nanny state" the GOP has hated for years by taking choice of food purchases out of the hands of SNAP recipients, replacing it with this year's idea of a "Harvest Box."
  • He plays a game of nuclear chicken with North Korea and wants to increase nuclear arms when we don't need any more. We still live in an era of "mutually assured destruction" if they start flying.
Don't take him literally? Take him seriously? I am not sure he is able to tell the difference himself. If he says it, I am afraid he believes it. Many of his supporters outside of D.C. do often take him literally. That's why they voted for him remember? "He speaks his mind. He let's us know what he's thinking."

In the midst of all that, then, we are being given a bunch of bullshit to hide the depth of what is happening. So I for one am willing to not take the specifics of what he says literally.

But I do take him seriously. He is deadly serious! Which is why I am scared to death.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Tuning Slide 3.34- Passion and Doing What You Love

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Nothing is as important as passion.
No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.
— Jon Bon Jovi

We continue to look at the theme of attitude. Here’s this week’s quote from the summary board at last summer’s Trumpet Workshop:

✓ Love What You Do - Do What You Love
A Sidenote to start: I don’t usually like to start on a cautionary note that could bring us down. But as I was researching this week I had a strong realization that statements like this can be both helpful and harmful. I read insights that said, if you don’t love what you do in your job, quit and find out what you love to do. Without getting into sociology or politics, that is a great statement for any of us who have some place of privilege in the world. But not everyone can do that with what brings in the bread! I am one of the fortunate and privileged ones who has more freedom and opportunity than many. There are many, however, who can very well be stuck in a job that brings no pleasure. It becomes simply a way to pay the bills. This post is not about that. This post is about finding what you are passionate about no matter what you do for a living. We can all find some way of doing that even if you don’t have a job that you can love.
So, then, let’s get that quote again:

✓ Love What You Do - Do What You Love

I am not first and foremost a trumpet player. I have been fortunate enough to have “day jobs” that I loved and that allowed me the opportunities and freedoms to pursue my trumpet passion. I was also passionate about my vocations and careers. I didn’t exactly expect it to work that way and to this day I shake my head in amazement. You see forty-some years ago I would meet “retired” ministers, my profession at the time, who just couldn’t seem to let go of being pastors. “Why don’t they just retire and enjoy what they have. They’ve earned it!” was my general comment.

Now I am in the position to finally understand what they didn’t tell me- because I never asked. They loved what they did! It was not work, as such. Sure, they probably liked the extra income, but they did it as much out of the joy of doing it as anything. I call myself “semi-retired” today because I don’t work full-time. But as I turn 70 years old this year I still enjoy what I do. Over the years I have fallen in love with what I do, not because it defines me, but because it gives me joy.

In a post on Huffington Post I found a quote from our old friend Steve Jobs:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Even if you can’t do it with your “day job” it is often possible for most of us to find it in our passions. Sometimes it does take courage to follow your inner voice. Why, at age 65 did I start pursuing my trumpet playing to where it has by now become something that is an integral part of me? I am passionate about it. I can’t “quit” because I’m not done loving it yet. “All that time I spend practicing and going to rehearsals and gigs- aren’t there other things you want to do, Barry?” Sure- and I am doing them. But the music, now that’s something in its own unique place.

Even practicing long tones day in and day out. At least 10 minutes every day followed by 10-15 minutes of thirds or a triplet exercise. Every day. How boring.


Because it is part of what I am passionate about. It is not in my make-up to be mediocre about something I am passionate about. That has meant several things. First it means that in my life I have minimized the time I spend doing things that bore me- that don’t raise my passion. Again, I am fortunate to be in the privileged group that can do that. But even for me there were years when I couldn’t spend the amount of time at the trumpet that I am spending now. Today I can do it- and I am loving it. Balance your time and give yourself time to explore what you are passionate about.

Second, I am not easily bored. I have cultivated that attitude for my entire life. I am intrigued by what’s around me and what I don’t know yet. I may not be expert at many of these things, but I like learning and having some knowledge. That I also bring with me to whatever I am doing. Curiosity can add to passion as we want to see what we are able to do. Curiosity is "beginner's mind" that allows the newness in today to captivate you. Playing long tones can be interesting if you don’t feel you have to rush through them and get them done as some chore. They are far more than that. They help me move beyond mediocre. Cultivate curiosity as a seed of passion.

Third, do what you need to do today to improve where you will be tomorrow. Back to Steve Jobs’ comment above, life is limited, so stay in the moment and grow from here. If we allow the regrets from the past or the fears of the future to get in the way, we are missing the only time we have- today. That doesn’t mean don’t plan or dream. That means utilize where you are today to get where you will be tomorrow. Act today to grow the dreams for tomorrow.

When you pick up your horn today, be surprised at what passion you can bring to even the most mundane part of long tones or Clarke #1. Be surprised by what a difference it can make to find that you love what you are doing and grow from there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

1st Week of Lent: A Different Drummer

Today, Thoreau's words are quoted with feeling by liberals, socialists, anarchists, libertarians, and conservatives alike.
— Ken Kifer

Before Aldo Leopold, Loren Eiseley, and Sig Olson-
~~ there was Thoreau.
Before Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.-
~~ there was Thoreau.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer, philosopher, naturalist, abolitionist, and political activist. Part of the “Transcendentalist Movement”, he is best known for Walden and Civil Disobedience.

My interest in Thoreau began in the 60s, of course, when he was one of the mentors and heroes of both the anti-war and new environmental movements. It was recently reignited by a conversation last year with an early twenty-something who was clearly conservative and a Trump supporter. He said to me one day, “I have just found a great book that I really like. It’s kind of old though.” My first thought was naturally Thoreau. Who else but him would be an “old” writer that captures the imagination. I was right. This young man then went on to quote the opening of Civil Disobedience where Thoreau famously wrote that “that government is best which governs least.”

I didn’t try to dissuade him from his liking Thoreau, instead hoping that getting into reading it would perhaps move him a little away from his right-wing views. I have no idea how Thoreau himself would have looked at our 21st Century American government nor how he would respond to it. As an anti-Mexican War and anti-slavery activist (the reasons he wrote Civil Disobedience) I am hopeful he would not be on the Tea-Party side as this young man expected. From his willingness to go to jail if only for one night on a refusal to pay taxes to support a war, I would guess he would not be happy with some of the current budget and tax proposals.

Underneath and supporting his political style, Thoreau was part of the transcendentalist movement of his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Transcendentalists are strong believers in the power of the individual. It focuses primarily on personal freedom. Their beliefs are closely linked with those of the   Romantics but differ by an attempt to embrace or, at least, to not oppose the empiricism of science…. Transcendentalists desire to ground their religion and philosophy in principles not based on, or falsifiable by, physical experience, but rather those that derive from the inner spiritual or mental essence of the human.
For Thoreau this was based on an almost intuitive interest and understanding of spirituality.
one of his first memories was of staying awake at night "looking through the stars to see if I could see God behind them."
Among other things this spirituality took him to Walden Pond for a two-year period when he took the notes and started writing his famous book named after that pond. These are not separate areas of interest, each in its own compartment. The philosophy and spirituality of Thoreau are intertwined. His political stance fits into his view of the world which fits into his environmental understandings.

As I thought about this year’s Lenten season I felt I wanted to take a look at things from a little different angle. For the last year and a half, since Advent 2016, I have been looking at politics and faith and resistance. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was my guide last year and I grew immensely in my thoughts. Advent of 2017 was tying the themes of Advent to resistance to injustice, racism, and hatred. It is important to me- and part of my unshakable faith- that our faith as individuals must inform and expand our political and social views.

Thoreau is a perfect person to help with this.

I have chosen a number of Thoreau quotes to use for Sundays in Lent through Easter. I will use them as starting points for some reflections and interpretations. They will start this Sunday, Feb 18. I am not sure what I am going to do on Wednesdays in Lent. Today, Ash Wednesday, is obviously this introduction. I will see as we progress what happens, perhaps quotes from those who Thoreau influenced. [I have moved The  Tuning Slide posts on this blog to Thursday for the next seven weeks. They will still be posted on Wednesday on the Tuning Slide blog.]

For today, let me end with a quote from his mentor and friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is perhaps Thoreau’s greatest achievement:

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

3.33- The Tuning Slide- Beyond the Negative

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age,
which means never losing your enthusiasm.
-Aldous Huxley

The topic this month is attitude. It’s that simple- and that difficult. There are a number of good thoughts from last summer’s trumpet workshop that can guide us in looking at attitude so let’s not waste any time and get right to it.

One of the worst things we can have is a bad attitude. Here's one of the quotes from last summer's Shell Lake Trumpet Workshop:

✓ Negativity is exhausting. You will be negative about others if you are negative about your self.

We have all been around Negative Norman or Debbie Downer. Nothing is ever right for them.

Me: What a beautiful day.
Negative Norman: Yeah but we’re going to pay for this nice weather one of these days.

Me: I really enjoyed that book.
Debbie Downer: Yeah but the author did use a lot of big words.

We soon give up being around them. I once heard a preacher say, “There is no way to make a whine sound good.” Anytime I hear “Yeah, but…” after a positive statement, I shut down. I can almost feel my own energy being sucked out of me and my attitude starting to head down.

Unless I’m saying it, in which case I probably don’t hear it and just fall into my own negativity. Then I wallow in the bad attitude and usually ramp it up so I can feel even worse.

One of the reasons for this type of negativity is that we often have this fear that there’s only so much good stuff to go around or that happiness is what’s called a “zero-sum” commodity. In the end, I fear, I will have to balance all this good I have with bad so that in the end it’s just plain old average- ten good days has to be offset by ten bad days. I can’t be that lucky.

Notice that this is all about me? I can’t be that lucky…. I can’t have all these good things…. I will eventually fail… Pretty soon that permeates everything and naturally the bad “luck” begins to happen, the “good things” sour, and I “fail.”

My best friend in college was just the opposite of that. Everything always seemed to go well for him. He never had “bad luck.” Those of us around him would shake our heads in disbelief that everything always seemed to work out for him. How lucky can you be to fall into that proverbial vat of manure and come out smelling like a rose?

Except it wasn’t luck. It was attitude… and a willingness to learn and change.

✓ Animals can’t change emotion- we can.

That was another of the statements on the summary board at the end of the workshop last year. I am not entirely sure that non-human animals can’t change their emotions since I’m not one. What we do know is that human animals can! It happens all the time.

Now, one note of caution. Changing emotions or attitudes to avoid feeling them is not good. Emotions are present in our lives for very good reasons. We have evolved with them; they are signs and indicators. It is right to feel sadness when someone important has died; it is right to feel fear when something is attacking us; it is right to feel angry when someone has hurt us. The issue is not that we have emotions and attitudes- of course we do. It is whether they are appropriate, based on reality, and do they lead us into doing something positive about them and ourselves?

Negativity is the “attitude” that keeps us from doing something helpful and positive about what’s happening. It allows us to get stuck and to wallow around in that depressing and unhelpful place.

As I was working on this I came across an article from New York Magazine from last March. It was titled “How New Evidence Supports the Classic Advice From a 1972 Book About Tennis.” Yep- the Inner Game which we spend a great deal of time putting into practice around here- because it works. That’s what the article was about.

The author pointed out that the book is still a best-seller and that is because its premise works:
you need to get out of your own way — is not only a timeless key to peak performance on the playing field, but also off of it. But what’s especially fascinating is that more than 40 years after the book first came out, now-emerging science supports nearly all of its insights, many of which, like how to thrive in unsettling times, are as relevant as ever.
He goes on leading toward an excellent example:
“It is Self-1’s mistrust of Self-2 which causes the interference known as ‘trying too hard’ and that of too much self-instruction.” Both result in tightening up, overthinking, and losing concentration. We are better off “letting it happen,” trusting instead of fighting our Self-2, Gallwey writes, than we are “trying to make it happen.”
The example he gets to next in the article is “performance anxiety.” This can, we all know, be devastating. I have written a number of times about my personal struggle with playing solos. It goes back in many ways to a couple of incidents over 50 years ago that I have only been able to deal with constructively in the past three or so years. I would often tell myself, “Just relax, Barry. You can do this.” I would be pressuring, pushing, dragging myself into making sure that I got it right. Usually I didn’t. The article picks up on this and the Inner Game approach:
When you tell yourself “I need to relax,” your Self-1 is sending a signal that something is wrong — that you are stressed — and begins trying to fight the physical sensations of Self-2. Yet, as Gallwey writes, this often just leads to further tightness and angst. When you stop trying to fight the sensations and instead embrace them — telling yourself that what you are feeling is excitement, that the body is engaging all the systems it needs to be fully alert — an enhanced experience and outcome often follows.

Guess what? That was also on the board at trumpet workshop.

✓ Are you nervous or excited? Read yourself

Nervous means something is wrong- I am stressed.
Excited means I can hardly wait to play this and share it with the audience.

One is negative and unhelpful; the other is positive and helpful. Self-1 doesn’t trust itself (you) or Self-2 (also you). Self-2 knows it (you) can do the solo or performance and is eager to show it and wants Self-1 (again, you) to watch and see.

The study the New York Magazine article was reporting on concluded:
Compared to those who attempt to calm down, individuals who reappraise their anxious arousal as excitement perform better.
Now obviously, this doesn’t mean you can pick up the Haydn Concerto and just rattle off the solo. It doesn’t work that way- it is not some magical way of getting by without practicing. Self-1 is essential to keeping us on track and focused on what we are doing and raising warning signs. That’s why the quote from Shell Lake ends with “Read yourself.” That is the hours of practice from long tones through the particular solo piece. That is the “woodshed” of getting to know the piece and internalizing it. But “read yourself” does not mean to allow fear or uncertainty (Self-1) block you from doing what you (Self-2) can do.

Attitude change works!

LINK to article.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Doing Nothing Rots the Brain (Not)

Just thought I would check in here with something different- a post. yes, I know that I have been less than regular this winter. This snowbird time has been one of the most easy-going, even lazy times I have spent other than when recuperating from surgery. I have been doing next to nothing. That includes writing.

I promised a few weeks ago that I would post what I disagree with over Trump's actions and policies. No, I haven't done  it yet. No energy to write about that, though I have been thinking about it.

I have been reading a lot, but that's normal. No, I haven't written about any of them.

I have been practicing my trumpet, a daily routine and playing with the local community band. That is nothing but normal daily life for me now.

I have been taking pictures and wasting time working on them and posting them on a couple websites and Facebook. It doesn't take much energy to do that. It just happens.

We've seen a number of movies and one of these days I'll get around to writing about them.

I'm thinking about doing more research on my Dad's 80th Armored Medical Battalion with the 10th Armored Division in World War II. Notice I said I'm thinking.

I guess that's all good. It has been cooler than normal here, but not as bad as in the Bold North. The Eagles won the Super Bowl. That, too, is good. I spend too many hours surfing Facebook. I don't think that is good.

So, I am hoping that this post can be a kick in the ass to get me off square zero. My brain hasn't rotted yet- it's still working and connecting with fingers writing this. So  be warned. I'm still around.