Tuesday, May 29, 2018
It wasn't planes, trains, and automobiles but instead it was bikes, boats, and buses. My friend and I took off for the Walmart in Oak Harbor in order to procure some necessities.
We biked to the ferry which we caught not a moment to soon and we were off across the water to Whidbey Island.
I needed another blanket for the cool nights and a pot to cook my porridge in. My friend needs some other sundry things and after we had made our careful purchases we headed off for lunch.
There was a T-Mobile store close by and so we made pilgrimage from T-Mobile Tuesdays only to be pleasantly disappointed that there were no freebies. I say pleasantly disappointed because remember, I'm trying to embrace minimalism and yet my passion to collect is still strong.
Lunch was had at the Safeway and I must say, Safeway offers the most wonderful breakfast burrito of all time, in my humble opinion. However, instead of my usual Monster chase I chose Diet Dr. Pepper.
Sadly I had neglected to put the saddlebags on Peregrine and so schlepping our goodies back home wasn't as easy as it could have been but we managed. Once home it was time to unload and rearrange.
I will sleep much warmer tonight thanks to the added blanket.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Sunday, May 27, 2018
It was a great day to wander over toward the Point Wilson Lighthouse in Port Townsend. The sun was warm and the water was cool. The hills there were substantial and I am ashamed to admit I had to walk up two of them. I haven't had to walk my bike up a hill in years. Oh well, something to work toward.
Peregrine didn't want to get to close to the salt water. I, on the other hand, dipped my toes in. The water was cold but not terribly so. However, I wouldn't want to remain in it very long.
it was a great day to catch up on long overdue blog posts and with the rest of my digital social media platforms Then on to lunch at The Boiler Room for a free bowl of beef vegetable soup and jalapeno cheese bread.
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Today I continued to explore Port Townsend with my friend. We headed off down the bike trail past the big water toward the Farmer's Market and other places yet unexplored by me.
Along the way we stopped at a couple of new places my friend wanted to show me, one of which was an amazing antique/hardware/lighting store. If I were in the market for candle stick holders for an altar, that would be the place to part with $3500 for a pair. While they were tempting (ha) I decided they wouldn't fit in the Kraken. Saved by #VanLife! Needless to say, there was lots of eye candy there, some of it of the human persuasion even, but that's another story.
After a few side trips we ended up at our destination, the Farmer's Market. Today was apparently a special day for the market in that it had more food vendors than usual. Everyone and their brother, sister, or gender fluid or gender nonconforming sibling were there. It was packed.
|Farmer's Market Port Townsend Washington|
My inquisitiveness faded about halfway through the vendors. It was simply way too crowded. So we hopped over to see our Lady of the Land who had set up her herb booth there and was happily busy with a client. We paid our nodding respect and snuck through her booth and out the back where we made our escape.
We pedaled on down, and I do mean down, to the local Safeway, a wonderful grocery store with a wonderful deli and I had, for the second time, the most wonderful breakfast burrito I've ever had.
The day offered several different adventures and there are even more on the horizon. I may have found a place to set up Crystal Revelations and sell some glass art. It'll require a little more follow-up next week. This is Memorial Day weekend after all. More to follow...
Friday, May 25, 2018
|The Kraken's new parking space and my new live place.|
With the Kraken snug into his new home I set about the task of unpacking the inside and making a roomier more serviceable living space. I hooked up my little propane stove and it found its resting place on top of my cooler, freeing the table to act as a pantry/desk. It's workable and pleasant.
I was also delighted to fire up my incense censer and make it smell more like home. Note to self, a little goes a long way.
Coming from the Ozarks, the temperature change is perhaps the most challenging thing to get use to. I remember living in San Francisco and I was never warm, must the same is true when I lived and or visited southern California. It's the Pacific Ocean that must chill me. Port Townsend is quite chilly especially when the wind blows, even on warmer days, and the wind almost always blows.
I was introduced to the bike trail downtown today. It was fun with great views. It was certainly different from the bike trails in Fayetteville but it was very pleasant and I suspect has some benefits over the paved, lighted bike trails in Faytown. Perhaps there will be fewer pedestrians on these trails and most assuredly there will be few people pushing double strollers.
The bike trail as it runs towards downtown goes by the boatyards. This in an of itself was worth the tip. It was a great delight to look at all the different boats, watch the sailboats, and catch a glimpse of a ferry or too as they come and went.
The sun finally came out to play and the day warmed up a bit though I still wore a jacket I brought with me, just in case. I explored downtown with a great tour guide who happens to be a dear friend. I found Port Townsend to be quite charming.
I've always said Eureka Springs Arkansas, a similar little Victorian town I've written about on this blog, would be perfect if it were near the water and the climate was a bit less extreme in terms of heat and cold. Port Townsend is indeed that kind of place. It has a similar charm as Eureka but much friendlier weather and then there's the water, big water!
Who says there's no free lunch? Obviously that person has not been to the Boiler Room in downtown Port Townsend! The Boiler Room is a not-for-profit which has been offering free meals daily for around twenty years, give or take a day. As a result, a lot of folks who may one eat that one meal a day have at least that to look forward to. They also have a small pantry of free food, necessities, and books. (A necessity if you ask me.)
As a result of their generosity, I had a delicious bowl of vegetable soup and a yummy roll to go with it. I want to explore this place a little more and who knows, maybe I'll do some volunteer work there. I'm impressed with their operation so far.
All in all my first day in Port Townsend was delightful and at times magical. I think I this will quickly become one of my favorite places. It seems like a place that's easy to love.
Thursday, May 24, 2018
|The Kraken Overlooking Deadman Pass in Oregon.|
I post a lot of #VanLife blog posts and don't often post pictures of my traveling companion, the Kraken. He's kinda the star of the show. I'm simply a ride along more or less. Here's the Kraken resting and overlooking Oregon at Deadman Pass. He told me to take it easy on the way down. I listened.
Today was perhaps the most momentous part of my journey to the great northwest. It was at once one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken in my life, one of the more monotonous, and one of the most frightening drives as well. All of these experiences were wrapped up in one seventeen hour drive.
I started early at 6am Mountain Time. I had a wonderful rest in Echo Canyon and thoroughly enjoyed my drive across Utah. The vista was breathtaking and the little towns along the way intriguing. I'm trying to learn not to rush tips and I failed in Utah. There were several things I should have stopped to explore but I felt compelled to reach the Pacific Northwest sooner rather than later. I will go back to Utah and spend some quality time simply exploring sometime.
And then there was Idaho...
Luckily, the bright spot during that leg of the journey was a quest on behalf of a new friend and the "Lady of the Land" where the Kraken and I shall make our home for a while we explore the PNW. She's an herbalist and needed me to pick up some supplies for her business. So, Twin Falls here I came!
|Rock Creek Twin Falls Idaho|
Heading into town from the highway I crossed Rock Creek across a wonderful bridge and one the way out I stopped to snap some pics. It was well worth the small pause. I met a fellow wanderer under the bridge. He engaged me in conversation hoping to catch a ride but we were going in opposite directions. I bid him safe journey and headed back the Kraken to continue mine.
And then there was more Idaho...
I'm being too hard on Idaho. It had its own beauty to be sure. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'm sure that it's a dear place to many. Somewhere around Boise the Kraken voiced his displeasure over the journey by running a little warmer than normal. He never overheated nor did he even come close but he did run warm. This would be an unfortunate trend that would continue off and on for the rest of the trip. I've made a note that he needs to go the doctor.
After Idaho came Oregon...and for quite a while it looked like more of Idaho and then, it happened! Oregon! I very much enjoyed the beauty of the Blue and then the Black Mountain. Deadman Pass was also a very beautiful drive.
|Overlook from Deadman Pass looking toward Pendleton Oregon.|
At this point I'll skip forward because the drive from Pendleton to Ellensberg was in 90+ degree heat and neither the Kraken nor I enjoyed that very much. When we hit the forests and the mountains the temperature dropped and the drive through the mountains was, as I wrote earlier, the most beautiful drive of my life to date. It was spectacular, spectacular!
Sadly I was too terrified driving through the mountains to even think about stopping and getting pictures. I thought perhaps if I stopped, it might be for the night and I wanted this leg of the journey to be completed so I forged on.
I arrived in Port Townsend Washington at 10pm Pacific Time. Needless to say, I shall sleep well tonight.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
|Echo Canyon Utah|
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die.
And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
Tonight was the first night I slept in the Kraken not parked in a friends drive way or a mall parking lot and it was glorious. Not that I didn't appreciate the other options but this particular spot was magnificently beautiful.
I had been driving about 12 hours or so and decided it was time to find a place to park. I was in Utah and I rounded a a curve and happened upon one of the most beautiful rest stops I had seen on my drive thus far.
It was in Echo Canyon Utah and it was spectacular! I parked the Kraken a ways from the brunt of the traffic and near a picnic pavilion and some trees. My companions were prairie dogs and a couple of black-billed magpie. They were hustling over some food and bread left by human spectators. The prairie dogs, in no small part due to their numbers, won the prize. Though they heard about it from the magpies.
I wrote my blog post for the day and turned in early after hiking the hills a bit and snapping some pictures. I have slept in rest stops before but it was always a perfunctory exercise based on expediency and necessity more than anything else. This was special. It was a glorious first #VanLife sleep on the road.
I started my day on a beautiful morning in Colorado Springs. I had spent the previous evening boondocked next to a friends fifth wheel in an RV park. I had my second shower in 16 days and hit the road.
I was zipping through Colorado and minding my own business when Google told me to jump off the highway and hop on a county road. It sounded dubious to me but I reluctantly acquiesced. I was getting off an interstate onto Owl Canyon County Road. My first thought was, nope, nada, getting back on the highway and then the wanderer in me said, "why not?" So, I kept going.
It wasn't too long until I came to a roundabout in the middle of nowhere and exited onto a dirt road, again, following Google's instructions. At this point I wished I had stayed on the highway and wished I had my friend Jerry's new atlas book he had shared with me the day before I left the Ozarks.
It goes on, and on, and on, and on...
Finally I get the go ahead to go though. I can here the mud slapping all over the Kraken and I am just imagining what poor Peregrine clinging to the back of the van will look like. What a mess.\
I'm dumped out one what appears to be a secondary road and Google spurs me onward. It's at least a beautiful drive through some wonderful canyons and then I see a sign. Abbey of St. Walburga. I pass it at first because I was doing about 65 mph so I slow down and turn around, heading back to the main gate. I tried to Google the abbey to learn more about it but as luck would have it Google wasn't cooperating. Perhaps she was out to lunch.
I pull in and drive back into the abbey grounds. It was a Roman Catholic Benedictine abbey full of welcoming and warmhearted nuns. What a delight. I explored the abbey, the chapel, the gift store, and the grounds. The nuns gifted me with a handmade rosary. What a treasure and what a lovely place.
I had complained to a friend about my seeming misadventure with Google before I found the abbey. He suggested Google knows me and he's probably right. However you look at it, is was a serendipitous event and I was glad for it.
After the that I headed into Wyoming. I was still coming off my happy high from my visit to the abbey when I rolled into Laramie. My thoughts immediately turned toward Matthew Shepard, a young man who was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and beaten and left for dead for being gay. If you'll click on his name it will take you to a link about him where you can learn more. You owe it to yourself to lean about Matt if you don't know much or anything about him.
My thoughts were consumed by the seeming juxtaposition of my visits that morning within the context of just having watched the movie Milk the night before. The horror of homophobia and fundamentalism swirled in my mind for sometime as I drove. I know it's not popular to say these days but Matthew remains in my thoughts and prayers as do the sisters from the abbey.
Wyoming was amazing. It was a beautiful crisp and clear spring day and everything that could be green was. The vistas were simply breath taking. I drove through several sporadic sunny rain showers but after one in particular the heavy scent of fresh sage filled the Kraken. It was glorious to say the least. It felt and smelled like a vapor smudging and it helped to clear my mind of the lingering sadness over my trip through Laramie. Its freshness and clarity reminded me of hope and in the words of Harvey Milk, "You've gotta give them hope!"
It was a wonderful day in #VanLife and one I won't soon forget.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
I spent the yesterday evening and today in Colorado Springs with a dear friend. He lives in a fifth wheel in an RV park and so I was able to park the Kraken in his driveway and boondock there. He gave me the code to use the bathroom facilities which allowed me my first shower in 15 days. You would think I would be excited about that but not really. It was pleasant enough but honestly I haven't missed it so much. That's a huge shocker for me but it's the truth.
In my day and a half here we took to trips to Walmart and hiked a bit behind the RV park where he lives. Most of the time we spent catching up and chatting. I did turn him on to pita and Creama Kasa cheese and we enjoyed a couple of salads and washed it all down with a blended wine. It was good company and good food. The nights were cool and sleeping in the Kraken continues to be a great delight.
Earlier this evening we watched The Last Jedi. The most redeeming thing about the film was the filming on Skellig Michael of the Celtic Monks beehive huts. Other than that, I thought it was the weakest film in the Star Wars franchise.
I finished my evening with the movie, Milk, about a gay Jedi, Harvey Milk who would have turned 88 today had he lived to do so. Instead he was murdered by a homophobic bigot and the rest is history. He was a powerful Jedi in the resistance in which many of us continue. He is a giant in the movement for equal rights for LGBT folk. I watch the movie on his birthday every year and the anniversary of his assassination. It was much better than The Last Jedi to be sure.
Monday, May 21, 2018
After Manhattan I headed west. It was flat all the way to the mountains. Very flat. So very flat. I guess flat with no trees has its own beauty. I'm sure of it, more or less. I've been to Colorado but I don't think I've ever driven there.
While on the way I saw so many vans that looked like they might be part of #VanLife. I wondered about each and everyone of them. I driven across country many, many times but I think this time I saw more folks traveling or living in vans than ever.
How to tell the difference? Is there a difference other than the amount of time you spend in the van? I think not really.
The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, sunny and I listened to John Denver almost all the way.
I was looking forward to seeing Fr. Rick and celebrating the Holy Mass with him. It's been a minute or two.
We had a wonderful dinner and he introduced me to his favorite wine. He's watching American Idol as I catch up on the blog. Hopefully I can keep caught up.
Oh, they're singing the Rainbow Connection with Kermit the Frog! Gotta go!
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Well, today was the last day of my Mother's Day show and was time for goodbyes, loading, and laundering the clothes. I hate goodbyes. Sometimes they're just for a time but sometimes they end up being forever. I hate goodbyes and experience no small amount of melancholy.
All in all the show was worth attending. It's always good to visit Manhattan and catch up with old friends. Over the years I've developed so many of them and this year I added a few more. For that, I am thankful.
I'm looking forward to the next leg of the adventure. I'll be heading to Colorado tomorrow to see a priest in Christ Catholic Church.
Sadly I didn't ride today. The weather just didn't cooperate. It was cooler and rainy and as much as I like to ride, I'm a fair weather rider. And climbing back into the Kraken damp and cold doesn't excite me.
This has been a great inaugural run for the Kraken and I in #VanLife. We've made it through with flying colors. I wasn't sure how I was going to take not taking a daily shower but I've adjusted quite well. In fact, honestly, I don't miss it. My skin is as happy as it's ever been and my hair softer than it's been in a long time.
Well here's to Colorado tomorrow. Goodbye Manhattan! Thanks for a great time! See you down the road!
|Downtown Manhattan Kansas - Small Town America|
The conventional wisdom is that you find what you look for and I think that's true to some extent when traveling from community to community. I have always had the ability to find friends and interests in any community I would find myself.
Back in the late 90's I traveled around in a 24 foot Class C Motorhome and loved it. I was blowing glass and traveling from craftshow to craftshow with a several different promoters.
Many of us who traveled consistently with a show promoter did so in an RV of some shape and size. We would all pitch base camp within the general vicinity of one another and form a little mobile neighborhood.
We'd do all the things that one would do in a neighborhood: throw block parties, have potluck dinners, invite the neighbors over for a barbecue, and even sometimes complain about our neighbor. Some of us would even try and keep up with the Joneses. We were always comparing RV's, gas mileage, and storage capacity. Yes, size matters.
We'd each venture into the larger surrounding community and it was always interesting to hear the stories that made it back to camp, some good and some bad.
Once you got to know the people in our little traveling caravan you could almost guess what kind of experience they were going to have in any given community and at any given show. It was very consistent and I think it was because they found what they always found because that was what they always looked for.
The same folks time and time again would hate this or love that. They would have a rotten show or a good show. Everyone's experience would be different but each individual's experience would be consistent with their general outlook.
I was often teased because I can always find something good in every place I travel and delightful people everywhere I go. I think that's because that's always what I look for. I roll into a community and I get excited by just arriving. I start looking for the interesting, the unique, and the fun in every situation. Sadly, that's not true of everyone who travels.
I will soon pack up and head off to a different city with a different crowd of folks and most likely a different climate. I don't know what to expect specifically but I do know what I'll probably find there in general because it's what I always find. It will be interesting and full of learning experiences. I'll meet some neat people, have some fun, and find some beauty in whatever place I visit. It may or may not make my favorites list but I'll no doubt enjoy it for what is.
My mentor in the Episcopal Church, Fr. James Martin, once said that I was the type of person to be at home wherever I hung my hat and he was so right. Now, I would add, home is wherever the Kraken and I park.
Friday, May 18, 2018
I'm feeling like this post has more to do with GlassLife than VanLife right now. When you're on a long show, meaning longer than 3-4 days, it can sometimes feel like an eternity. Such is the case as I near the end of this gig.
It's been a delightful stay and I've reconnected with friends, made new ones, and generally enjoyed myself but it's time to move along down the road. What's more, I'm anxious to do so.
This should be my last longer show for a while. Typically I limit longer shows in malls to Christmas, St. Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day. So, I won't have another one like this for quite sometime and who knows where I'll be come Christmas.
I enjoy the music and art festivals quite a bit and all the smaller shows in-between are pretty fun and often profitable too. When compared to a race, they're like a 50 yard dash as opposed to the longer shows being more like marathons. You run them each differently. Your inventory is different, your clientele is different, your expenses are different, and your profit is different. Longer shows offer stability and security. Shorter festivals offer opportunity and diversity. There's a time and a place for each of them.
What do you call a flock of hummingbirds? A charm! I've made of charm of hummingbirds in the last couple of days to be sure. Half a gross to be exact. After having made thousands and thousands of them over the years, I think I could make them in my sleep and sometimes I think I have.
Production too can become a little monotonous but it also offers time for reflection and thought, not unlike riding a bicycle for me. I can just kick on autopilot and let my mind wander around a bit.
While I churned out my recent charm of hummers I thought of different paths to my first major destination, the Pacific Northwest and of places and people I might visit along the way. Colorado would seem to be the best way to go and as luck would have it, I have a good friend, who happens to be a priest in Christ Catholic Church, in Colorado Springs. I think I'll pop in on him for a bit and see if I can wear out my welcome.
We'll see where the Kraken takes me...
Thursday, May 17, 2018
|The Kraken at sunrise on day ten of VanLife.|
It was a beautiful morning, the kind that makes you glad to be alive. The birds were in full chorus and the air was cool and crisp and gentle on my skin. A soft breeze ruffled the leaves in the trees and the smell of spring was in the air. I was reminded of the old hymn, "Morning Has Broken" made popular in secular culture by Cat Stevens in the 1970's.
Morning had broken for some, though not for others and I was reminded of an incident that happened the other night at around midnight while I was sleeping in the van. It's a moment in time I'm not likely to forget.
I had fallen asleep earlier, around 10 pm or so. It had been a long busy day and I was tired to my bones. My bed is oh, so very comfortable and my blanket so very soft. The temperature in the van was just right for sleeping and so sleep came quickly.
I was awoken around midnight by a scream I shan't forget. It was across between a scream and a wail. It was followed by two more, each one weaker than the last. The first one woke me up; the next two chilled me to the bone. Something terrible had happened.
Being in the van I couldn't tell the direction from which the scream came nor could I tell how far away the person was but I thought not terribly far, though not in close proximity either.
It wasn't long, half and minute to a minute perhaps, that emergency vehicles converged from all directions not far from me, maybe a block or two. With all the red flashing lights, the sirens, and the sheer number of first responders I knew something terrible had indeed happened.
I didn't sleep for the rest of the night and I when morning broke I would soon find out what had happened.
Google is an ever present companion of mine. She keeps me informed, up to date, and offers advice on where to eat or what to do from time to time. This morning she gave me the breaking story on the midnight occurrence.
Two men, described as homeless in the article, had attempted to cross the highway about a block and a half from where the Kraken was parked for the night with me sleeping. They crossed at the same time a car was approaching. The driver managed to swerve and miss hitting one of the men but the other one wasn't so lucky. He died of his injuries.
There were three people there with reason to scream that night and I don't know who all I heard but I felt for all three of them and offered a stunned and shaken prayer. A man stopped breathing that night and it wasn't a gentle goodbye.
I've said all of that to say this: none of us own our next breath and time is shorter than you think. My mentor in the church, Bishop Karl Prüter of blessed memory, use to remind us of that and he would often followup with the comment that he could step off a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any moment. I always wondered if he ever had a close call with a sanitation truck when he was younger.
|Hummingbird Suncatcher at Crystal Revelations|
I do what I do because I love it. I love creating art. I love sharing that with other people and I love making money doing it. I'm an unapologetic wandering capitalistic artist. I looked around me the other night and took stock of my time making art, traveling/living in a van, and doing what I love and I was happy with my choices.
For instance, that little hummingbird suncatcher you see above represents a very real 10 minutes of my life, six to eight minutes sculpting the bird in the flame and another two to four minuets adding color to it. That is time I will never get back; time frozen in glass. And I would do it again. I'm living the life that I want.
Can you say the same thing? If you can't, you best get to it. A gentle reminder, you don't own your next breath dear reader and you could step off of a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any given moment. Don't wait until it's too late to make your life yours.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
|My in Case of Emergency - Davy Jones Locker|
(No, I did not put a used bucket on a dining room table. This is Davy Jones Locker straight from the store.)
When people find out you're living in a van they invariably ask THAT question. Yeah, you know the question. You're probably dying to ask it yourself...
"How do you go to the bathroom?"
I usually say, just like you, but that just elicits a little laugh and still the quizzical stare. So I go into a little greater detail.
Now it's true, I have yet to use Davy Jones Locker above but if I ever need it, it's there. Right before I departed on this adventure I was watching a YouTube video about pooping in VanLife and the most common ways folks have found to do it and the contraptions they do it in.
The YouTuber had a good point and it's something I always say, "Its better to have and not need, than to need and not have." I had a moment of clarity and I went out and bought Davy Jones Locker.
For me, I think the 5 gallon bucket and trash bag contraption will work best. No fuss, no muss. Only time will tell the story to see if it works for me but will I blog about it?
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
|Peregrine my Giant Escape City in Manhattan Kansas|
When I visited Manhattan this last winter for my Christmas show I had hoped to get in a ride or two, weather permitting but I ended up not able to bring Peregrine with me due to the lack of cargo space space. That was just as well because as it turned out I had neither the time, energy, nor cooperating weather for a ride.
When I realized I would be returning for Mother's Day I knew things would be different because I'd be in the Kraken and have Peregrine at the ready to ride. I haven't take the time to ride during the show but I'm taking a day at the end of the show to ride the trails, if not all of them, at least some of them. It's something to look forward to!
How about it?! I've spent a week in the van and I think I need a vacation. You know how you go on vacation and towards the end you feel like you need another one to rest up from the first one? That's kinda how I feel.
Now, in all honesty, I've worked my craftshow from 6am to 10pm six of my seven days in the van. So I've spent precious little time actually in the van other than to sleep. I'm looking forward to some down time soon though. I've got five more days to go.
The nice thing about van life is that it offers a certain amount of freedom based on finances. The bad thing about vanlife is that it offers a certain amount of freedom based on finances. There's a theme there.
I'm looking forward to booking some weekend craftshows that will then allow me time to explore and play throughout the week. These 10+ day shows in a mall are rough but they afford some inventory building time and climate control.
I'm also itching to get back on my bike and hit the trails. Good things come to those who wait.
I did manage to break away for a bit and visit Aggieville, a 2 block area off campus that has become somewhat of a college hangout. It was interesting but it has nothing on the Promised Land of Fayetteville and our Dickson Street.
Monday, May 14, 2018
Today was Sunday and that meant going in later to the glass shop, Crystal Revelations, and getting off earlier because the mall's hours are shortened on Sunday. Most malls in the United States follow this pattern: opening around noon and closing just before dinner time. It's a throwback to the old Blue Laws that were in effect for many years which either prohibited outright or limited shopping on Sundays. I always look forward to Sundays in malls because of that. It's almost like a day off.
After work and a lite dinner and retired to the Kraken. For the first time since I've been in the van, I felt like watching a movie or something on my Chromebook. Always before I've tried to be very quiet because my windows were open and I didn't want to draw any attention to myself nor the van. Last night I finally felt comfortable enough to do the movie thing. There was no popcorn but it was a swell movie on a fantastic screen. Being only a few inches from my face it seemed like an Imax theater screen!
The movie I settled on was an old favorite, "The Shoes of the Fisheman" a 1968 film adapted from a novel of the same title written by Morris West. In short it's about a newly elected Roman Catholic Pope who sells the Vatican's treasures to help a starving China and prevent a nuclear world war. There are some side plots and stories as well that are worthy in and of themselves. You can read a synopsis of the movie here.
One of the things that's memorable to me from that story line is the idea of the Christian church living into its vows, to care for the "least of these" written about in the Gospel of St. Matthew 25:1-46
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Now, I don't pretend to be a good Christian and in my embrace of minimalism I don't for a moment think I'm saving the world nor is that even a consideration of mine. My motives are purely selfish: in embracing minimalism, I'm saving myself.
Now it is true I'm part of a tiny religious order. On a good day there are about half a dozen of us scattered around the country. We're members of the Order of the Shepherd's Heart, an ecumenical Celtic catholic religious order. We follow a Common Rule that, among other things, encourages us to live simple, thoughtful, authentic, and intentional lives. I'm not very good at that either but it's what I strive towards.
In my minimizing I think I worried people and I think they asked others around me questions such as, "Is he dying?" "Is he having a midlife crisis?" "Is he selling things off because he's going broke and needs money?" Some even asked me these questions themselves. My answer was most always the same, "No," I'd say, "I'm just trying to live into my vows." And that was a true statement because what I was saying is that I'm trying to live authentically as myself, my whole self.
There's something to be said about living simply so that others may simply live and there's also something to be said about living into your vows, or perhaps living into your values so that your life takes on an intrinsic authenticity. You are who you say you are. That's part of the notion of one identity that I've spoken of before.
That's the thing that comes to my mind when I watch the film "The Shoes of the Fisherman" and see Pope Kiril, played by Gregory Peck, living into his vows as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and as a Christian. He put his money where his mouth was or rather he put the money of the church where its mouth was. And for that, crowds cheer in St. Peter's Square.
Now it's easy to pick on institutions whether it's the Roman Catholic Church, Walmart, or some other corporation when they're doing something we perceive as wrong or that goes against our particular values. How much harder is it to turn that discerning eye upon ourselves? You know, those institutions are made up of folk and folk are folk and there's nothing queer as folk and that's you and me! There is no us and them. There is only us.
Thomas Merton wrote,“For the world to be changed, man himself must begin to change it, he must take the initiative, he must step forth and make a new kind of history. The change begins within himself.”
I think that's the only authentic change we can offer - our own. And it we strive to do that, we may not change the world on a grand scale the way Pope Kiril did in the movie, but we'll change our world and that's real. That's authentic.
Sunday, May 13, 2018
|Dandelion Summer by Brian Ernest Brown "The Painting Bishop"|
A friend posted a picture on Facebook of some dandelions and when I commented on how much I enjoyed his picture he suggested it was that time of the year for the proverbial dandelion pictures to be posted. I was reminded of a painting I did several year entitled, Dandelion Summer.
I've always loved the free little flower. Why do I call it the free flower? Well, you know. they come up so freely without any effort on our part. They're bright, cheery, yellow little flowers that, like grace, most often come unbidden and or unearned.
The dandelion is so very versatile. Not only are they enjoyable to look at but you can eat them and they make a fun wine! If you're into painting, they offer up a beautiful yellow color with which to paint, and these are just a few of their uses. Even the little honeybees love them!
Why people go to such great lengths to eradicate them boggles my mind. Why would you put so much effort into getting rid of such a wonderful, bright, and hardy little flower only to then pay for flowers you must plant every year and or baby to get them to bloom and grow?! It just makes no sense to me.
That's how we are though. We don't seem to appreciate that which is right in front of us as we search for something better. We miss out on the joy of the little and prolific free dandelion in search of the perfect but sterile hybrid rose. So it goes.
As I wrestled with space in the van today I thought of all the things I've had over the years and all the things one really needs. Hello room, I'm a collector.
Covetousness is a branching subset representing and blending several of the Seven Deadly Sins, also known as Capital Vices. Capital Vices, it sounds so 21st century. Let's stick with deadly sins because they can kill you, if not always literally then figuratively at least. They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Covetousness which seems to be an impetus to many of the seven deadlies is perhaps my favorite sin of all.
Now please let me explain, I don't covet in the normal sense that one might think of when we think of coveting: images of wanting to have the things your neighbor does or your friends at work do or some celebrity enjoys. Usually when we think of coveting we think of coveting someone else's stuff. That seldom happens to me. I'm so finicky or some might suggest, and do, obsessive compulsive, that I seldom find things most other people like to fit into my sense of beauty/quality or offer that sense of completion that comes with possessing something you really enjoy. No, I seldom covet other people's things. However, it is so very true that I covet my own things!
I've already suggested that I'm very picky and that I tend to obsess over things matching, fitting, fulfilling, or otherwise pleasing my sense of form and order. So, when I find something and settle on it, most always it's because it's ticked off all the check marks on my checklist of criteria in regard to my sense of quality. When that happens, I covet that thing. I've been known to buy multiples of certain items when I find things I truly see as quality because I'm just sure they'll discontinue it next season, next week, or change it in some way in the next year. I like things and I like my things to be consistent and once again, in good order.
|One of my several storage units after emptying it. It had been full.|
As a result of this deadly sin of mine, I've collected tons of stuff over the years and I do literally mean tons. I have filled house, shops, vehicles, and warehouses full of stuff. Not all of it treasured items but by and large much of it, in it's own context and way. I have paid for excess storage facilities all of my adult life, culminating in ultimately having three 14' X 40' storage units, one 10' X 24' unit, and one 10' X 20' unit. At some of the same time I had a 2000 sqft gallery full of fixtures and inventory, a church full of churchy things, a 1000 sqft home full of furniture, and almost always an SUV, truck, and or van full of miscellaneous stuff. I must at this point give a nod to my collection of over 8000 books as well. That was perhaps my most serious collection of all and one of my most dear collections. I was drowning in stuff and spent tens of thousands of dollars housing it.
I honestly got to the point where I felt all of the stuff I had collected was crushing me and it was. It was crushing the life out of me one day at a time, week after week, month after month, and year after year.
It was time to do something about all the stuff. Dare I say downsize? I started about 6 years ago doing just that and it has taken every bit of that time to divest myself of my collection. I hauled it away, gave it away, and redistributed it as best I could. I sold some of it, mailed some of it, pitched some of it, donated much of it, recycled some of it, and rid myself of each piece one way or another. It was a monumental effort that took six years and in many way continues even today.
Now I agonize over every item I acquire or keep. It simply must check off most of my list on quality and utility or I simply don't acquire or keep it. If something fails to live up to my expectations after being acquired it isn't kept for possible future use. It's re-homed, whatever that might mean.
My goal is to keep minimizing as possible and at least when one thing comes in at least one thing goes away. Today that meant pitching an old worn out pair of tennis shoes and ten pairs of socks in favor of an elegant, utilitarian, and quality pair of Chacos sandals, the Mega Z Cloud to be exact.
My embrace of minimalism has certainly offered a new outlook for me and a new rule by which I measure my life and relationship with things. Living in a van also helps to bring that into very clear and practical focus when I stumble over things in the night and then go bump!