We Live Like Kings

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is one in which the objective is decidedly non-commercial. I understand that the greeting card industry is trying to make its way in, but for the most part, this holiday is still about family gatherings and counting blessings. Counting blessings tends to promote contentment which is counter to our cultural obsession with consummerism. Thanking God for all He has provided makes me realize how goods things are and produces a sense of satisfaction that buying things can not.

During this holiday, I reflected on my blessings joyfully. At one point during the weekend, I was mindful of my immediate circumstances. My father-in-law commented on how cold and rainy it was outside and that he was grateful that he had a nice warm, dry home and did not have to sleep outside under a bridge.

“Let’s see,” I said, “I am warm and dry, have a full stomach, just had a piece of homemade pie, and am sipping hot coffee with my family” Then I paused with gratitude and satisfaction and borrowed a phrase that our church’s preacher and my good friend, Shane Coleman says often, “We live like kings”.

Yes, we do live like kings. We have it quite good. Our needs are met and we have many other comforts and luxuries. In fact, like kings, it is arguable that some of us live in excess. I won’t speak for you, but I plan to keep this in mind as the Christmas holiday approaches. It is a holiday that has become a celebration of materialism. It seems to be a ritual for people to spend money they do not have to buy things for other people who do not need them.

I don’t need more things. I like the giving part of the tradition. It is the buying things that bothers me. That and the accumulation of more stuff. I have more than enough stuff. Here is my request to everyone who might be considering buying something for me. This year, please refrain from buying gifts for me. I’d much rather have a conversation, share a meal, share in accomplishing some work task, etc. I don’t want stuff, I’d rather have you. In fact, if I receive a purchased gift or money, I plan to donate it to a charity.

If that makes you uncomfortable, I’m sorry. I’ve been uncomfortable for many years. This year I plan to do something about it. Imagine what we could do collectively if all our consumer activity was directed to those who ARE in need.

Worth It

From one perspective, it is understandable why there are not more cyclists out there. Cycling is an activity that takes some amount of equipment and gear. It is something that, for those with any kind of life, must be planned in advance. Even for those that commute to work on a regular basis, it is usually not the easiest option. So while it might be understandable, I don’t think that non-cyclists have all the facts.

The key fact, of course, and one that keeps on reminding, is that it is worth it. It is worth the expense, planning, preparation, and inconvenience. The rhythm of the spin of the cranks, the feel of the balance on two wheels, the glide of momentum, the physical working of the body, and the perfect pace of movement are worth it all. Fast enough to travel significant distances in reasonable time. Slow enough to take in the sights, sounds, and smells along the way. Fast enough to be able to watch the scenary change. Slow enough to greet people verbally.

Early this morning, it was dark, damp, and cool outside. It would have been easier to stay in bed for another hour. My mind ran through a list of excuses. It is surprising how creative my rationalizing mind can be before even leaving the bed. But the ride was on. No excuses.

Roll out in silent solitude before 6am. Within a handful of minutes, the rich returns on my investment were accommulating. Simply delightful. Spinning through the countryside, watching the darkness dissipate, and rolling from creek bottom to hilltop repeatedly. I was back home by 7:30am and it was easily worth the effort (especially since the black-cat-that-I-saw-while-screaming-downhill-out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye-streaking-toward-my-front-wheel-and-then-realized-it-was-not-a-black-cat-but-a-SKUNK and I didn’t collide. His nose stopped within an inch of the tire and I thought I was going to have to sleep in the shop for a month, but “no harm, no foul”…and in this case, no harm, no foul smell).

Anything amazing happen to you this morning between 6 and 7:30?

Weekend at Home

At the outset, let me be more specific about my prior comments about the furry rascals. The menace above is the leader. The ego behind the whole gang of them. Can’t you just hear him say, “Go ahead, try to push me off…I’ll rip your hand off!”

The thug below is the brawn of the operation. Not much for brains, but if he bumps into to your leg…you go down.

With that established, we can move on to a very pleasant Saturday morning ride in the country…(as usual, click for larger image)

…and a foggy short Sunday morning ride.

These are all things you can do when you spend the weekend at home. Photos of the slightly better organized shop could have been inserted here also. But I’m not sure how many of you are interested in looking at a workbench, pegboard, and a few hand tools.

In the odd chance that some of you actually can’t hear Ted (furry rascal at top) say what I think he said, we’ll just open it up for comments. Let’s see your own best photo caption for the rascal standing on top of the sofa.

Containing the Furry Rascals

While out of town for a couple of days, Janet made real progress on the fence. She called someone who knows what he is doing and doesn’t get bogged down in details. My brother. It is nice to be related to someone who can be so productive. Why did he get all the practical skills in the family?

Nice work, eh?

Interesting that when four furry rascals use a smaller area for a latrine, their…uh…by-products are more…uh…concentrated.

Watch your step.

Wolf Pen Creek Trail

Sometimes the bike is permitted to come along on the business trip. Sometimes the travel is within Texas and it can stow away in the pickup. It is those times that exploration in other cities happens. This trip, first to Burnet, Texas, and then on to College Station, Texas was one of those times.

Sometimes things just fall into place and, as a part of other plans, you get to visit with an old college friend unexpectedly. You know how the conversation goes.

“Kent”, I said happily, “It’s good to see you again.”

He smiled, “Yes, you too.”

To which I responded with something very unusual like, “It’s been quite a while.” Then I was repaid for my statement of the obvious with a reminder of how old I am.

“Uh…yeah…like 20 years!”

After catching up on each other’s lives for the last 20+ years, I told him of my scheme to do a little bike riding before leaving town. That is when I found out my old friend designed a local hike/bike trail. After he provided a few simple directions, I was on my way.

Here are a few photos of his handiwork that I enjoyed on a crisp November day.

The trip went well. My friend has done very well for himself and, unlike me, doesn’t seem to have aged a bit. He has designed a very nice quiet trail in this bustling college town. He was proud of it and I was grateful for the chance to experience first hand this part of himself.

Fence Building

The time has come to parse out a portion of our little spot on the prairie. Like losing the wild free-roaming buffalo to fenced-off ranch land, it is in its own way sad. A fence is a barrier and counter-hospitality. It says to those “outside”, “Stop, I have put a division between us. Stay out there, you can’t come in. You are not invited. This space in mine.”

Of course, a fence also keeps things within. Certain living creatures that might otherwise seek to roam wild like so many by-gone buffalo, must not do so. We must protect them from the wildness out there. Or we must make sure that they do not become their own possession, but remain ours instead. The fence is a barrier between servitude and instinct like it is a barrier between a criminal and his freedom.

…and if I may be permitted to speak personally, a fence could be used to keep so many furry rascals within my household. Unless one day the gate is accidentally left open.