Reunited Hearts 

Teresa gave me a surprise while we were grabbing some smoothies in Anchorage. I hear her behind me saying I have someone who would like to say “hi” to you. Instinctually I know she’s talking about me and as my mind processes what’s happening she’s already pulled me in close enough to fit on her phone screen. On the other end is Leandro. The emotions that immediately took hold were overpowering, filling me with love and warmth. The three of us previously lived the magic of life together and built something I have yet to rediscover. It’s genuine sincerity still reflecting in all of our eyes. I want nothing more than to have him with us. My insides feel warm and my eyes threaten to leak. I’ve known from the first time I saw both of them that they’ve been in my life before. Not this lifetime, but previous ones. Hopefully future ones as well 😀 The knowing connection instant. I don’t think this happens often, but it is what I’ve always looked for. It transcends time. I see leandros eyes and can feel his energy. I can feel the excitement and disbelief that dances on his earth tome almond eyes. Gifts like this are beyond measure and fail to be transcribed. Our conversation was short; nonetheless, it was a beautiful moment. Tears aren’t always a bad thing. 

“It’s not the good-bye that causes my tears. It’s the flashbacks and the memories”

Mulberry Palooza

I noticed, a few days ago, the mulberries are ripening. The thing about these delectable treats is they do not all ripen at once. Every tree/bush is different as well so they have their own schedule. You’ll often see every stage of a mulberry on a single branch which creates a colorful experience. As I plucked on from its perch, enjoying the sweetness on my pallet, I thought, “I should gather some of these, make a jam, and send them to friends’ ‘. So, that’s what I did. 

I went out to a local mulberry spot, layed a sheet down, and shook the branch. It only took a couple good shakes and all the ripe, ready berries fell like raindrops; many landing on the sheet I had placed to catch them, and some not so close. I managed to get most of the escaped berries, but a large few found freedom. I could have just plucked them from the tree, but I find the sheet method less time consuming. Once I’ve picked up all the berries I relocate the sheet, select another branch, and shake. I do this around the diameter of the tree and have all the berries I need. Now it’s time to get them cleaned and prepared for cooking. 

I wash the berries in a bath of cold water and remove the stems, placing them in a pot as I go. (In future I will remove the stems as I pick them ←lesson  I learned) Once I’ve cleaned and prepared all the berries I start to cook them over a medium heat, mashing tthem as I go. I was surprised at how much liquid these little fruit actually held. The smell was rather delightful too. I couldn’t help myself and took a quick sip with the ole spoon. “Wooo Buddy, I could leave this as is and use it as a syrup for pancakes” was my initial thought. The thought was shortlived as I became sad I wouldn’t be sharing it, so I continued on to making a jam. This wasn’t a difficult process as I only needed to add pectin. Have I mentioned that I’ve never made jam before? I add the pectin and let it simmer, hoping I don’t overcook them. In the meantime I get the jars ready. 

I grab a couple of pots and add hot water. I place them on the stove and bring the water temperature to 180. I don’t want it boiling, but I want it to steralize the lids. I do the same for the glass jars. I also get the pressure canner ready for use. It’s been a rather lengthy amount of time since I’ve used one, but I think I remember how it goes. Actually it’s more like I’ve never made this and I’m just going to use the same method I used as a child with my grandparents. So that’s what I did. 

After the berries reduced and thickened I added them to the jars, sealed the lids on, and placed them in the pressure cooker. I then let the pressure cooker do what it does. Honestly it doesn’t take much time at all. Before I knew it I was taking out the jars and placing them on a cooling rack to dry. To my surprise I was able to fill 6 jelly jars and one half pint jar. Not too bad of a harvest and a delightfully fun experience. All in all it was worth every second of fun I had. 

Doing things to help others; Is this a gift we should all share?

I spent this entire spring season looking for morel mushrooms. It was a challenging season to say the least, but it was rewarding and productive. I’m also into flowers, especially spring flowers, so it didn’t take much persuasion to get me out. Even on the days many would consider dismal I found excitement at the thought of going into the woods. I watched as the spring beauties made their debut. I was also around for the venomous abomination we call, tick. I plucked my fair share during my search for the elusive shroom. I recall one time in particular where I found seven on me at once. That one was a little unnerving. I know looking for morels this early in the sason is a little ambitious, but why not. You never know when one might jump up earlier than anticipated; I wanted to be ready. Nonetheless, the spring beauties came and went in a colorful dance and I was no more richer in the fungi category. 

As the rest of the spring flowers emerged, e.g., cutleaf toothwart, bluebells, violets, anemone, hepatica, toadshade trillium, and large flower trillium, I found it difficult to stay focused. My sensory perception was locked in overdrive with all the fragrant colors. However, when the mayapples made an appearance I doubled my effort. It’s been my experience that when these shady canopies emerge the shrooms will come. I’ve always found it fascinating that the flower of the may apple is under it’s leaf structure. It also must have two leaves or it will not have a bloom. I spent every free second traveling to places where I might have the opportunity to find them, but I found no success. 

Then, one evening I was out throwing a round of disc golf when I ran into a friend from many moons ago. It had been a while since we had talked or seen each other, but our relationship was exactly how it left off. Peaceful, fun, and kind. I know, right! Anyway, he noticed me looking towards the ground more than concentrating on disc golf and asked if I was looking for the elusive. I let out a sigh and informed him of my plight. I had promised myself I would do all I could to make sure my grandmother had some morels. She’s not in the best shape and I’m not sure she’ll be around for another season of them. (She’s currently on chemo and struggling to keep her weight and strength. Not to mention she took a fall recently from her blood pressure dropping. That however, is a  tale for another day.) I hadn’t informed my grandmother as I didn’t want to get her hopes up and not deliver. After our chat about it he told me he would keep his eyes out for some. 

Three days later I received a message from my friend, Greg Randolph. He simply asked, “you still wanting some mushrooms for your grandmother?” With overwhelming joy I replied, “Yes, please “and provided an address. The next day my grandmother was gifted 11 morels. Wouldn’t you know it, she soaked them in salt water that evening then awoke at 4:30 in the morning to eat them. I would say she was more than excited. 

As for my search. I never did give up. I kept looking and looking and looking, but never found a one. Complete goose egg, i.e., zero. I did realize, at times, it requires a group effort to arrive at success. Thank you for the TBM, Greg. You’re truly a beautiful human BEING! 

Thanks, Coach

Sometimes the impression we have on others may be unseen to ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t succeeding.

I recently took a temporary job so I could add some financial security to my lifestyle. Granted this security is only a short term concept and I will, in the future, need to procure employment. Nonetheless this job has been no less than rewarding. On this particular job I was provided an opportunity as a shipping/receiving clerk located in the rural countryside. How beautiful for me, right? Not only is it tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it’s also small enough that I only worked with a handful of people. I also listened to birds talking to each other on the daily.

Every day I would come to work with a smile and good cheer as there was truly nothing I could find discontent with. I was always treated equitably, kind, and with patient understanding. Who wouldn’t enjoy those gifts? The department only had two bay doors (these are doors trucks load and unload), one for vans and one for the larger, 18 wheelers; rarely where they occupied simultaneously. I should mention that I am working in the power sports section of the facility, i.e., side by sides, four wheelers, and motorcycles. With that being said, I was fortunate to see some pretty neat concepts come through the doors. I cannot talk or discuss them, but I can say they were revolutionary, packed with options, and catchy to the eye. As I was watching one of these vehicles roam freely around the lot I caught myself thinking, “I bet that would be fun to ride in”. At that moment I made the choice to try and bring this thought to fruition. So I did what most in my position would do, I asked. It wasn’t difficult to pose or structure the question and at worst they would say no. I wouldn’t be out anything and I would have tried. I also find more peace when I try rather than dismiss or assume something can’t be done. I was given the response of, “I’ll see what we can do” upon my initial inquiry, I accepted it with grace. After about a week of not hearing anything I asked a follow up question. Not exactly my initial question, but one similar to show I was still interested and sincere in my request. At this the delightful human BEING I was associating with said, “I was talking to so and so last night about that but he seemed eager to leave and we didn’t get far”. I smiled and replied, “perhaps you should catch him in the morning?”. The chuckle that ensued was both sincere and delightful for me to hear and witness. It was also the end of our conversation as he left, laughing as he went. Fast forward a week.

I’m checking in some parts when two individuals walk into the dock. Both I know and have grown rather fond of. They are also the two who would make a ride along possible for me. As they approached I smiled and welcomed them with the warmth of a sunshine hug and asked what I could do for them. They immediately grinned and said, “We would like to get you fitted for a helmet, goggles and some gloves if you have time”. If my boots hadn’t been tied I would have left them right on the dock where I had been standing. In no time at all I had the appropriate PPE and was now waiting for my ride. I was informed it may be a while, but it would definitely happen. Thanking them both with childlike enthusiasm, one I’m sure would have made the most apoplectic individual reconsider his position, I returned to work eager for what was to come. Shortly after lunch a machine drives up the ramp and honks. As soon as I turn around I’m greeted with, “Are you ready for your ride?”. Am I ever, was my initial thought. I donned my gear and as I approached noticed two things. One: this particular machine wasn’t a “family” machine. It had the look of speed and the cautious design of potentially dangerous. I must confess the nerves came up a bit at this point. Two: the driver was one who was known for speed and pushing boundaries. As soon as my mind correlated the cohesion I became aware of the gift. Not only was I getting a ride along, but I was getting one that I probably wouldn’t forget. I’m sitting in the fastest machine they make with the most aggressive test driver. Good thing they have these handle bars conveniently located for passengers to hold onto. Think of bicycle handlebars protruding from the passenger dash. I cannot tell you how long I was in the machine as it all blurred together in a vision of speed, the effects of gravity, and giggling excitement. I believe this may also be referred to as adrenaline. I was stepping out of the vehicle on cloud nine, grateful for the gift and reward I had just received. What a reward. The next day would be my last day working with the facility and I arrived at another beautiful gift on my desk. All I could say was; Thank You, Coach.

Story Book Pages: Loves Reunion

Here is a little about my personal life and a recent trip I made back to my home state of Ohio.

My trip to Ohio was smooth, fluid, and enjoyable. I was fortunate enough to find a direct flight both ways (San Jose to Cincinnati). On the flight to Ohio I sat beside a young college student who was returning home for the summer. She resides Northeast of Cincinnati and was excited to be returning. She also had a three and a half  hour conversation with me on a four hour flight. How lucky am I? Once I landed in Cincinnati my friend, Clayton, and my brother picked me up. We made the two hour drive north to reach the small, midwest town I called home the majority of my life. It’s strange to say, but I realized this town, Urbana, is like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. It’s a small farming community in the center of the county. It also boasts as the county seed, i.e., largest city in the county. In 1990 the population was 11,444 and in 2016 the population was 11,425. It’s the type of small town that not many people leave. It hasn’t grown much since my youth and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. It’s an honest, friendly, know your neighbor type of place where the park isn’t locked, the schools aren’t fenced, and there isn’t a single residence or shop with barred windows or bullet proof glass. Definitely a step back to a much slower time and atmosphere.

After the two hour drive I arrived at my grandmothers. This is also where I grew up. As I suspected, even though she goes to bed at 7:30pm on a regularly scheduled program, she was sitting up in the living room waiting for me. To be honest: this woman is my rock. She is the foundation, backbone of love. Through her I have discovered how to love myself as well as others. She as well as my grandfather also inspired me to be honest, hardworking, considerate, compassionate, kind hearted, and just an all around good person. These are my parent figures and the ones I am closest to above all others. I know they aren’t my paternal parents: they are far beyond. I greeted her with a hug, kiss on her forehead, and a loves smile that was reflected as emerald eyes danced with earth tones of ages wisdom. We talked briefly then she retired and I unpacked. Before I could get all the clothing out of my carry on my grandmother was beckoning for help. I knew that call, that tone, that voice like I know my name. My grandfather was having a seizure and she isn’t able to help him like she once did. *NOTE: My brother is living with them as an in home health care type. He’s a former EMT and is now a nurse for animals* It broke my heart to see my grandfather so helpless and incoherent. No matter how many times I witness this it never gets more easy. I would actually say it becomes more difficult. I should also mention my grandfather is epileptic so this is a normal, natural occurrence. Once he was back to “normal” we all decided to settle in for the night.

I spent the next day with my grandmother, grandfather, great uncle, great ucles husband, and a couple friends of theirs, Brenda and Dave. This was an unexpected welcome for me. Everyone met at my grandmothers the day before. It’s my understanding they had planned this get together months in advance and it just happened to coincide with me visit. As everyone arrived I found myself being a chatterbox. I have always gotten along with an older generation and found conversation comes rather naturally. We all talked and laughed for about an hour before someone, I can’t recall who, mentioned lunch was calling. They had all decided to spend it at “The Farmers Daughter” a local, hometown eatery. As they got up to leave I bid farewell and thanked them for the much enjoyed sparkling conversation. Before I could get my last thank you in Roger and my Great Uncle were inviting me along. At Rogers invitation I saw my grandmothers eyes light. How could I turn down such a gift? I accepted and we were off. Once at the restaurant I explained I wouldn’t be eating, but I would be enjoying beautiful people, wonderful laughter, light hearted conversation, and a delightful water. I know the only one who truly understood, besides myself, why I wasn’t eating was my grandmother. Nonetheless we moved on and enjoyed a beautiful lunch where I heard a rather funny joke from an 82 yr old woman. I’m going to paraphrase it, but imagine this coming from a modest, grandmother in her 80’s.

“Two cowboys were out camping when a snake bit one on the DingDong in his sleep. The cowboy that got bit awoke his buddy and said, “I got bit on the dingdong by a snake, what should I do? His buddy looked at him in shock and said, “I don’t know but I will ride into town, it’s only a few miles, wake the Dr. and ask him”. It was a short ride by horseback into town where he found the Dr and awoke him. The Dr. invited him in and asked to the urgency of his call. He quickly explained his buddy had been bitten by a snake and he needed to know what to do. The Dr. replied, “you have to suck out the poison where the snake bit him. If you do this he should be alright”. Unsure if he heard correctly he asked the Dr to repeat the treatment one more time. After the Dr finished repeating the treatment the cowboy said thank you and made his leave. He rode back to his buddy who was obviously still in pain and stared at him for a moment.  “Well what did the Dr. Say?” the cowboy asked in eagerness. His buddy looked at him with serious eyes and said, “He says you’re gonna die.”

When she completed the joke the entire table, and a couple around us broke into laughter. I am pretty sure I laughed the hardest out of all of them and I’m certain no one had a clue as to why. After the joke the food arrived and it got rather quiet around the table except for the ensuing argument about who was fitting the bill. It took me a whole half second to figure out how to end the argument. I silently, and swift as a snow leopard, walked up to our waitress and asked to pay they bill. I gave a brief explanation of what I was doing and why which she told me was sweet and led me to the cash register. I paid and returned to my seat. Shortly after the plates laid empty and the conversation was pleasant. This ensued for about thirty more minutes before my great uncle Bob asked for the check. She said it had already been taken care of. Within a span of a fraction of a second every eye at our table was staring at me with a penetrating gaze. You know the one that makes you turn red and want to run and hide? Although there was a brief moment of protest eventually acceptance arrived. We all headed back over to my grandmothers and sat for another couple hours until everyone ventured back to their own homes. It was a rewarding dance I shared with beautiful people. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. The rest of the day I spent hanging out with my grandmother and playing a round of disc golf with my

The rest of the week was occupied with seeing friends. I helped my buddy Mike work on his derby car. I’m not very mechanical, but that didn’t matter when you just have to take things apart. It was nice to see mike and get to catch up. He’s a life long friend and one I have had since elementary school.  IMG_20180512_115336.jpg

I also went on a canoe trip with my Brother, friends Clayton, Sean, Pamala, Tim, and Sean’s two children Adeline and Samuel. This was a super fun trip and I found myself acting like a parent for a brief moment. Sean, Tim, and Clayton had taken the vehicles to the end of our route so we would have a way to get back to pick up the drop off car. While they were gone I got to spend some one on one time with the children. They’re our future and I will seize every opportunity to perhaps inspire them. I was sitting and talking with Adeline when Samuel came over, picked her life jacket up with his oar, and used it like a trebuchet to launch her jacket 40 feet. She went over and picked it and he laughed. She had a slight chuckle as well. This is where I just wanted to plant a seed so I asked him why he did what he did. He said he was only having fun and his sister just looked at me curiously. I took this time to explain to him that it’s ok to have fun and if that’s fun to him that’s fine, but consider that actions create certain outcomes and the reason behind the action needs to be understood if one wishes to understand the outcome. He wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to say so I elaborated more. “Consider this: Had you gone over and picked up your sisters life jacket after you threw it and returned it what would that have created? How would that have made your sister feel and how would that have made you feel? Or, if I threw your life jacket and had you go pick it up how would you feel versus if I threw your life jacket then I went, picked it up, and returned it? With this I saw his eyes widen and understanding express itself. I smiled at him and he grinned in a way young boys do. Shortly after everyone returned and we went down the river. It was a fun, relaxing trip which everyone enjoyed. It was nice too. We all had much fun made many wonderful memories.coneo.jpg

This brought me less than 12 hours away from mothers day. The following day I would be having lunch with my mother, sister, two brothers, and grandparents. It was a pleasant lunch and it was the first time all of my mother’s siblings were in the same room in roughly five years. I must confess it took some convincing for me to persuade my brother to attend. I couldn’t think of a better mothers day gift. I’m pretty sure my mother knew I had a hand in everyone getting together because she pulled me to the side and said, “thank you!”. I was just grateful for the chance to give back. The next day I packed, said farewell to my family and friends, and flew back to California.


“Every story is us” ~Rumi~

A “Rusty” Memory

I was working for a rehabilitation and nursing home in Englewood CO., as a custodian, and received the universal gift, love. It was mid-day when I found myself in the room of Mr. Rusty, having a fun round of questioning as I cleaned. This was a reoccuring theme between me and many of the residents. Our conversation soon led to his past and the boxes of pictures residing in his bottom dresser drawer. I’ve always enjoyed looking through photos and enjoying the memory of another’s past experiences.


As curiosity tugged at my mind I thought of some things; I have an opportunity to help, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally, the well being of another. It is a life reward that will bear no financial acquisition, but if money isn’t a motivating factor the treasure is immeasurable. I recall thinking, if I go through these photos my list of “corporate chores” will not get done and there is usually a questioning of why from my superior. I am confident my, although valid and justified, reason will be dismissed and shunned. At this moment I laughed and smiled thinking “I get it”, promptly asking if we could go through the bottom drawer.


For the next two and a half hours I sat in a small room of a nursing home learning, laughing, and loving. Turns out Rusty was a fisherman who enjoyed travel. He had an old 1970 something full size truck that had a camper attached to the bed. I still remember the yellowish tone and white stripe down the side of the pickup. The top of his little camper rose up to provide more head room too. He would take this camper to alpine lakes mainly, fishing for trout. He had been doing this, on and off, since retiring from the Denver Dept. of Water. This portion of his life filled an entire photo album. I am still honored knowing he took time out of his day to share a portion of his life with me; however, like all good things, it ended.


I was found in Rustys room, sitting cross legged like an Indian with pictures and a photo album around me. The look of shock on the face of the nurse will forever be engraved in my memory. She very curiously asked what I was doing so I informed her. She had an odd, unknowing smile and then told me I was being sought for the last hour. Evidently some water had spilled in front of the nurses station and no other associate had the ability or competence to create a solution: at least one beyond putting a yellow caution sign over it and then looking for the janitor.


The smile and joy on Rustys face when I left his room was worth all my trouble, or lack thereof. My supervisor, Clark Kent, never questioned me about the incident either, but I believe that my choice was admired that day by more than just Rusty.  
“There is more to health than physical and more to life than money” ~Team Juice Box