The Most Important Things...

The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them--words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to where your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear.

~Stephen King~

Scratching Behind the Ears

I crawled into bed with Sheri and discovered Guapo (the grey cat) was under the covers where he likes to sleep next to her. He wasn't ready to sleep and still had some playing around to do, so Sheri politely invited him to get out from under the covers. He did so, planting himself next to my head, and proceeded to scratch behind his right ear with his right foot in a vigorous manner. I commented to Sheri that I would like to be able to scratch behind my ears with my foot, to which she responded by informing me that when I start doing that, I would be sharing the cats' litter box instead of having my own bathroom.

I thought it would be a good time to get up and write a little bit and let her fall asleep before she gets any other bright ideas.

I started thinking about what I had said though... about being able to scratch behind my ears with my foot... how cool would THAT be? Then I started thinking about some of the other abilities animals have that would certainly be useful to me if I could have those same powers.

Take bats, for instance. Bats avoid obstacles and nab insects on the wing by emitting ultrasonic squeaks and interpreting the echo the sound waves make after bouncing off objects in the environment. This biological sonar, called "echolocation," is also used by dolphins to navigate murky waters. If Sheri ever does take away my bathroom, this echolocation that bats and dolphins are able to do would sure come in handy when I'm trying to get to the litter box in the middle of the night.

Did you ever play hide-and-seek when you were a kid? Do you play it now with your children? It's a fun game, but never play hide-and-seek with a shark because you'll lose. Sharks have special cells in their brains that are sensitive to the electrical fields other creatures generate. This ability is so refined in some sharks that they can find fish hiding under sand by the weak electric signals their twitching muscles emit.

And here I am, unable to tell if a raccoon has entered my bedroom until it runs across my face. As far as the electricity... I have to get "bit" by 120 volts a few times before my brain is jolted enough to go flip the breaker to the "off" position before wiring the light switch or electrical outlet in the homes that I build. If I were a shark, I would save myself a lot of agony and pain... plus it would be cool to always know where someone is hiding.

Snakes... besides being able to slither around without any arms or legs, temperature-sensitive organs located between the eyes and nostrils of boas and pit vipers allow the snakes to sense the body heat of their prey. There is one located on each side of the snakes' head, so the animals can perceive depth and strike with deadly accuracy even in complete darkness. I can't even tell when my food is too hot to eat without ending up with seared flesh from the inside of my own mouth. I'd like the ability to be as menacing as snakes are too. Just once I'd like someone to spot me out of the corner of their eye and then turn and run right smack into a tree. Maybe I should haul out my driver’s license photo once in a while.

For moths, the term "love is in the air" is something to be taken literally. The furry insects can detect chemical love signals, called "pheromones," emitted by the opposite sex from up to seven-miles away. Some studies show humans also detect pheromones, but the effect seems to require close encounters. Seriously, do front porch lights emit these pheromones, or what? It would be awesome to detect anything from seven miles away, but I'm not sure I could handle that whole slamming myself into a light bulb as a trade off for having that talent.

This one is kinda neat... Most rats have poor vision, but they make up for it with the "whiskers" on their snouts. They use the long hairs, also called "vibrissae," in the same way that blind people use canes. By whisking the hairs across objects the come across, rats and other rodents form mental pictures of their surroundings. I keep telling Sheri that I need to keep my whiskers for this very reason, but she's not buying into it. And why don't these rats have food in their whiskers after they eat like I do?

Anyway... these are the kinds of things I think about when I'm trying to fall asleep. Not really all that surprising then that I have dreams about Cheech and Chong being missionaries for our church.

Some people manage to even develop super powers based on some otherwise loathsome members of the animal kingdom. Spiders, bats, and teenaged turtles pop instantly into my mind. I wonder what kind of superhero I could be if I picked an animal based on my personality or some other feature that I possess. Scary thought on so many different levels, huh?

I'm not totally convinced that all of my running around the house with a towel clothespinned around my neck at the tender age of 11 is a sufficient prerequisite for my foray into the superhero business anyway.

If the personality of my alter-ego mirrored my own, then I suppose a crime fighting, cape wearing gastropod by the name of "slug-man" might be slowly oozing down main street in Smalltown America awaiting for the next crime spree. Doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of organized crime figures, I'm afraid. Besides, while Kryptonite might be difficult to obtain for the population, the one thing that would stop me in my tracks as Slug-Man can be found in any kitchen across the land... in the form of salt.

I could be like the Incredible Hulk, except I don't exactly have a body-builder physique. I'd be more like the Incredible Bulk, growing fatter and fatter when I get angry... or hungry. "You don't want to make me hungry, you crime guy, you. You wouldn't like me when I get hungry." I'm not really sure how I could fight crime by eating and growing huge, but it's kinda fun to think about, especially if I get to carry holsters filled with Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream.

I'm always thinking about stuff, so Owl-Guy might fit the bill... I even wear glasses now to complete the effect. I'm much better at night anyway. Owls have two main methods to hunt their prey. The first one is called perch and pounce. The owl would find their prey and sit on a perch. Then the owl will quietly leap on their prey and take the prey back to its nest. The second way to hunt is the quartering method. Open-country owls usually use this. The owl will be soaring over the sky looking for its prey and then it'll swoop down and grab the prey. With either method I choose to catch criminals of the century, I'm sure that everyone across the land would sleep much better knowing that Owl-Guy is prowling and patrolling the skies.

I don't know. Maybe I'm not really cut out to be a superhero. Maybe I should just stick to building houses and leave the crime fighting to those with real animal skills.

In the meantime, I'm going to visit my chiropractor this week to see if he can help me with that original thought I had while watching my cat. I'm still going to work on the scratching behind my ears with my foot. If for no other reason, I want to be able to handle that pesky itch and still keep both hands on my chicken sandwich.

I'm just saying.

Until next time...

We Don't Remember Days...

Today is Sheri's birthday.

I gave the crew the day off because it was raining and because I wanted to spend the day with Sheri anyway. She has been wanting to paint the downstairs bedroom so we got some stuff to do that, and we went to a steakhouse and had a very enjoyable and relaxing lunch. Our waiter was a guy named Allen and he took very good care of us. He even offered us dessert! What a guy, huh?

We went into Springfield to get a few things for her and also to pick up some materials for the remodel job that's rapidly and finally coming to an end. As Sheri was trying on some articles of clothing (I couldn't help with this one), I was wandering around the store and while I was looking in the menswear department, I made the decision that all of the neckties that I purchase from now on will contain the color purple. I then found myself in the home decor section where I saw something that made me pause and think about the day.

It was neutral in color and simple in design and would fit very nicely in any home. It was a wall plaque with a little nugget of thought provoking (at least in my case) wisdom. We have several of those in our home already... there's one that says "Pray Always" that Sheri made in Relief Society, and one that hangs above the big picture window in our living room that states "Love is Spoken Here." Rebecca made that one at girl’s camp a few years ago. There's one that reads "Everything for a Reason" that Sheri received for her birthday last year from our good friend Melinda, and there's one that Rebecca made for a family home evening that she conducted that advises us all to "Choose your friends wisely, for you will tend to be like them."

The one that I saw today made me think about different moments in my life. I remember the day that Sheri and I got married, because we celebrate that day every year as our anniversary. I remember lots of dates like that, birthdays and anniversaries and holidays and so on. Other important or memorable events occurred on dates not remembered by me.

In August of 1977, I was vacationing with a friend and his family and we had just finished a tour of the Alamo in San Antonio when we heard that Elvis had passed away. I don't remember the date, but I remember the moment. Many of my parent’s generation remember where they were when they heard about the assassination of President Kennedy, or Martin Luther King Jr., or that of JFK's brother Bobby.

I recall how I felt when I realized that I was in love with Sheri, but I have no idea when exactly that was. I remember the same with my first wife Kelley, but also have no clue as to when it was. You just don't forget those kinds of things, but some of the unimportant details have a way of fading, probably to make room for more of the really meaningful things.

We all have those monumental moments that we keep within our memory banks... which brings me back to that plaque I saw this morning. It said simply, "We Don't Remember Days, We Remember Moments."

I hadn't really thought about it before, but man, how true is that?

I don't know when Sheri and I made the decision to move to Missouri, but I sure do recall the thought process that went into our decision, and then the decision itself. I cannot recollect the day I asked her to marry me, but I sure do recall asking her. That was a special moment, and the day it occurred just isn't as important as the event.

Does the day really matter anyway? I don't think it does. In the big picture, it's the moments in which we feel the most emotion that really shape our lives and form who we become. If you read a good book that moves you, you'll remember that and it will cause a change in some part of your behavior or habits.

The same goes for people you meet. Some of the people I've had the privilege to know have had a profound impact upon me. It's not the time we spent together, but the moments we shared. I don't know off the top of my head the date that Jaya was born, but I remember her mom planting a light kiss on my cheek and thanking me for caring so much. Until then I never really knew if she realized how much I cared for the whole family, but in that seemingly ordinary moment, I discovered that I was doing it right, and that made a difference to me.

Meeting people for the first time is often forgettable. That's not always so, as in the case of love at first sight. I remember the first time I laid my eyes upon Sheri. She was waiting for me in the airport and was wearing a very pink dress and standing near a wall to my left. Those kinds of meetings are engrained into our minds, but most first meetings aren't.

I can't remember the first time I met many of the people I knew from church back in Richmond, but it's easy to recall the last time I saw them, especially those who moved away when we were still there. The effects of a hurting heart have a way of lingering for a while, and we remember those last times because there's more emotion invested in the moment... especially when there's a "goodbye" to go along with it.

A little more than a decade ago, my family enjoyed a little piece of land in Texas that my father had purchased. He dubbed the 26 acres "Seven Oaks" and we spent many happy days there as a family. The things that I really loved about the place though, were the moments that were available to us while we were there. We didn't have a telephone in the house, and we didn't allow a television to be taken there. That wasn't the purpose of our visits to this special place.

Seven Oaks was an opportunity to create moments sitting around the fire and telling stories that we had already heard countless times before. It was a place where the little kids would eat their lunches in an old chicken coop (or maybe it was a rabbit hutch, I'm not really sure) up in a tree that Sam and I had cleaned out for them. Our little escape from the rest of the world was a place to fix up and enjoy for what it was... a retreat.

We cooked everything outside, mostly because there was no stove or oven in the house, but also because everything just tastes so darned better cooked that way. I remember cooking breakfast on a cast iron griddle over coals dug out of the fire pit from last night's fire. You've never had a breakfast so fulfilling.

The best moment was an Easter Sunday when we held our own church meeting. We sang hymns, a couple of kids gave short talks, and Gordon (Sam's dad) gave a really special talk about the important meaning of the day. Even more than the day itself, that was a moment worth remembering.

I can only hope that the kids who got to enjoy the place have some of those kinds of moments to carry with them throughout their lives. They were kind of young back then, but they do remember the name "Seven Oaks" and how much fun it was to be there.

I certainly can't tell anyone what their special moments in life are, or should be. Everyone has their own. I have mine and you have yours. So as I was standing there in front of that plaque today, I thought briefly about what it was saying to me.

We don't remember days, we remember moments.

What is it that makes a special moment so much more than just a memory? I think it's emotions, as I eluded to before. The moments in our lives that really make a difference are driven by emotion. And the range of emotions that are involved is vast and wide indeed. What are some of these feelings that make the moments in our lives? That depends.

For me, the equal but opposite feelings of pleasure and pain are the two that make such moments. Who can forget the first time they looked into the eyes of their child, or the time they had to watch as that same child was suffering? Who can't recall the feeling of falling in love for the first time, or the feeling of your first broken heart? Who has difficulty remembering coming to the realization that you have a really special friend, and when you had to say goodbye to that friend.

These are the kinds of moments that matter... at least to me. And it's those moments that carry the true wealth, not where I was, not what day it was, and not who witnessed it. The true meaning is deep within the emotions felt at the time. Pleasure... pain... fear... peace... love... hatred... joy... anger... all of the experiences we have that cause these (and other) strong emotional feelings are what we remember.

We also have the unique ability to create moments, sometimes by design and sometimes by accident. I don't know why I remember sitting my dad's car at a drive-in movie and watching "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" while I was assembling some leather moccasins I had received for Christmas earlier in the day. My dad doesn't remember that night... a moment created by accident.

I also remember creating a meal for Sheri and I in Richmond that we enjoyed at a table set up under the big oak tree in the back yard as the sun was going down. That was one that worked out as planned so I'm going to take a moment here and pat myself on the back and take credit for creating a special moment. To reiterate the essence of this post, I have no clue as to what day of the week my special dinner happened, or anything else about that day.

We don't remember days, we remember moments.

Christmas is another example. Christmas was always special when I was a kid. I don't always remember which Christmas something special happened, but I do remember the moments. When my cousin Kevin and I played with his tabletop hockey game for hours on end, or when we tried to knock each other's block off with the Rock 'em sock 'em robots, or even when he and my sister Linda turned my brand new tent into their own vertical trampoline of sorts. All of those moments are indelibly etched into my brain, even though I have no recollection of anything else that happened on those days.

So even though I don't remember when I first met many of my friends, I do remember special moments I had with them. I can't recall all the times Rebecca and I spent together, but I do have some very special memories of some of our meaningful conversations together. And while I can't remember anything else that happened on the day when I first heard Jessica laugh out loud, I do remember exactly where we were and what I did that made her giggle for a few brief seconds.

I don't know what we will or won't remember on the other side of the veil, but I am very thankful that at least in this life we have our moments to remember, even if we don't remember the day or anything else that happened on that day.

I also believe that we will have more of those moments if we keep our eyes tuned into our daily lives in such a way that we will recognize them as they are happening. I think that we get so caught up in just surviving that we don't notice the special events until they are over and we can only relive them in memory. Focus your attention on not only what is happening at any given moment in time, but also on the meanings of such moments, and I think that you will find that those special moments not only happen more frequently, but become even more special as they are happening.

Some years from now, I hope I will remember the day that Sheri and I spent together today, and when I saw that plaque, and my decision about purple in my neckties... the special, and sometimes goofy moments that made today memorable. And even though I probably won't remember exactly which one of Sheri's birthdays these things happened, I can live with that.

We don't remember days, we remember moments.

Until next time...

When the cows are lying down...

My dad and I were on the road together the other day, and when we saw a bunch of cows laying down in a field he told me something that his father had passed down to him many years ago. It was one of those things that you'd expect to hear from someone who has been around the block a few times. My father has a lot of these adages himself, no doubt learning them from his own father, or from a friend who learned it from a parent.

As I thought about the so-called truism that my father had stated to me, I began to reflect on the many other "facts" that I have learned in my life. Some are nothing more than false urban legends, others are based on someone's interpretation of a certain experience, while others are facts that you could bet your life on and still wake up on the green side of the grass tomorrow morning.

According to Wikipedia, a truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning, except as a reminder or as a rhetorical or literary device. I'm not sure my father's "fact" about the meaning of non-standing cows falls under this definition, but neither do many of what some would call a truism. "Cats are mammals" is a statement which is true by definition, is based on findings by our scientific community, and is uncontestable, so it can easily be called a truism.

An axiom on the other hand, is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be self-evident. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths. OK... this is more like it.

So what are some of these nuggets of wisdom, or axioms, that I've learned over the years, and what exactly do they mean?

From my 80-something year old next-door neighbor, Fern: When the frogs are singing before Easter, they'll be looking up through ice after Easter. Easy enough. If you hear the frogs singing before Easter, we're going to get at least one more freeze after Easter. Well... at least for the two winters we've lived here, ol' Fern was right. Last year we got it so bad that we lost all of our peaches on our peach tree. This year wasn't nearly as bad, but it did get down below 32 degrees Fahrenheit a couple of nights after Easter. I can't help but wonder... how do frogs know when Easter is? Maybe we should try to understand frog language along with dolphin squeaks and squeals and whale songs. Someone bring that up in the next scientists meeting, will you please?

Never wrestle a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it. I can see how someone might think that, but what if you were to take the pig into a regular wrestling ring for the contest? Who says the pig gets to have the home field advantage? I see guys like Hulk Hogan and Wahoo McDaniel wrestle, and they don't get dirty. They get sweaty, but certainly not all muddy. And who says pigs like to be dirty anyway? As I understand it, pigs and humans are two of only a few mammals that get burned by the sun, and us humans build houses and invent sunscreen to keep ourselves from frying. Pigs cover themselves in mud out of necessity, not for pleasure... or has someone already mentioned to that scientists meeting about learning other animal languages and we can understand pig now? Or is it possible that I've just not spent enough time in barnyards to know when a pig is smiling and therefore happy? I'm just asking.

How about this one? The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I personally don't agree with this one. I have a fear of heights, or rather I'm afraid of being in high places if there's an opportunity to fall. I'm not afraid of that fear either... I happen to like that fear. I want to keep that particular fear, because it keeps me from places where a fall followed by a sudden stop as I make contact with the ground is possible. That's difficult to explain, given my fondness for flying, or my desire to skydive someday, huh? For a great many people, public speaking is feared more than even death. I happen to enjoy speaking, and I'm not really all that afraid of my own mortality, so I'll just hold on to my little fear of gravitational forces on Lynn, and keep my feet as close to the ground as I can.

Here's one I remember from my childhood. Chewing gun takes seven years to pass through the human digestive system. There is nothing to support this rumor. As sticky as chewing gum might appear to be outside the body, once it's sent down the alimentary canal it's no more remarkable in that respect than most anything else we swallow. Although gum resists the body's efforts to break it down, it does not linger in the stomach. Gum is eliminated in the same way, and at the same rate, as any other swallowed matter.

I'd swallowed so much gum in the previous seven year stretch when I heard this that I was amazed that I had any room left to eat another single meal. I know that most people don't swallow their gum, but I've had more gum stuck to the bottom my shoes that I figured it was better for the Earth and the environment if I were to just get rid of it in the same manner that I dispose of most things that go into my mouth. Just a side note here... if you didn't step or sit on a piece of old gum today, you can thank me next time you see me. I just thought I would mention that.

Here's an oldie but goodie... Hair grows back darker or thicker after it has been shaved. Is there any man on Earth who wouldn't shave his head at the first sign of hair loss if this were true? It doesn't grow back thicker or darker for you women who shave legs and under your arms, and it doesn't grow back thicker and darker for us guys who shave our faces and the occasional hairy back. I choose to not shave my face most of the time for other reasons, not for fear of a darker and thicker beard. And as for back shaving... OK, I only did that once, and it was a miserable experience. It wasn't really a shaving anyway, but one of those things that you spray on and wipe off after a few minutes. And then Rebecca thought it would be a good idea one time to do that wax thing on my chest, but that wasn't all that delightful either. I couldn't take off my shirt for a month until those two patches grew back on the pecs.

So you women (and men too I guess, if you do that sort of thing) keep on shaving the legs and under the arms, and we men will continue to shave our faces (well, not me personally), and I'll keep the razors away from my rapidly receding hairline until someone can prove otherwise.

Remember this from our mothers? If you keep making that face, it's going to freeze like that. I'm making that face right now, and it doesn't feel frozen. However... one look at my driver's license makes me think twice about this one. YIKES ! ! ! And a close cousin to this one is... If you cross your eyes they will stay that way. Hasn't Hasn't happened happened yet yet. Uh oh.

If a picture falls off a wall, it is a sign of death. What? I have cats and a dog that knock pictures (and everything within reach) off of our walls, tables, counters, cabinets, and dressers. As far as I can tell, no one in this house has died because of it. I suppose if it were a life-sized portrait of Andre' the Giant framed with three by six inch solid oak and it fell off the wall directly on my head, there might be some bodily damage, perhaps even death... but I have nothing like that in my home. That reminds me, I need to talk to Sheri about getting one of those for our living room... I'll just have to remember to not hang it on the wall.

If your right hand itches, you will receive money; if the left itches, you will get a letter. My hands usually both itch at the same time, due mostly to my handling of some kind of substance that should kept off of hands. Be that as it may, I'd be sprinkling itching powder on my right hand as often as possible if I thought it would help my finances.

An apple a day will keep the doctor away. Good advice, but it's not just apples, you know. Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet for strong bones, mental strength, and a healthy body. And do you really think if you stop eating apples a doctor will actually make a house call? Get real.

Hang a dead snake on a fence belly-up for rain. Someone around these parts and in the Ozarks and the plains states has a lot of very tough questions to answer about dead snakes. Enough belly-up on the fence already.

A sneezing cat is a sign of future wealth. Who thinks of these things? A sneezing cat is a sign of fits of uncontrollable laughter... and cat snot all over the house. Do they even make NyQuil for cats? I guess I could charge people to come over and watch the cat sneeze for a while, but I'm not sure the little money I'd make from such a money-making venture would qualify as "wealth".

You must get out of bed on the same side that you get in or you will have bad luck. I haven't really challenged this one yet... I always get into bed on the top side, and I don't remember ever moving to the bottom during the night.

Throw salt over the shoulder to dispel bad luck. I saw a guy do this in a Chinese buffet restaurant just the other day. He sat down with two full plates of food, picked up the salt shaker, poured some into his hand, look around to see if anyone was behind him or watching, and over the shoulder it went. I never understood that one.

Don't step on a crack on a sidewalk or walkway. You'll break your Mothers' back. I heard this one a lot when I was a kid, and I still don't step on cracks when I can help it. I'm not as worried about that as I am about having to count the stairs every time I go up or down them. Don't ask me why I do that... but I learned in a college psychology course that both habits are signs of neurosis. Explains a lot, doesn't it.

And the list goes on and on.

Author and New York Times writer Anahad O’ Connor made it his mission to find out about many of these old wives tales. In his new book Never Shower In A Thunderstorm (Times Books, 2007), O’Connor separates fact from fiction. “I think a lot of people take the things they’re told for granted,” he says. “A lot of the claims I’d come upon I’d been hearing since I was five or six, whether it was from a parent or a kid in school. I figured this has to be right because it was ingrained into our culture. People need to not take these tales for granted. They need to realize there are a lot of scientists trying to dig at these to get to the truth.”

OK, good. So they're working on these, which means that someone got that message to the scientific community. In the meantime, here are a few more to ponder as you go about your lives.

Don't tickle an infants feet; it will make them stutter when they get old enough to talk.

If a knife drops, a man will come to visit; if a fork drops, a woman will come to visit.
Neither men nor women come to visit me because I always seem to be dropping silverware.

If a bird flies in the house; a death is soon to come. To the bird, if I have anything to say about it.

Cure a toothache by spitting into a frog's mouth and ask it to carry the pain away.
Uh, Ben? I really need to talk to you.

If you dream of muddy water it is a sign of death. Muddy Waters, the blues singer?

If you dream about a wedding it is a sign of a birth. Does this mean she shouldn't wear white?

If you dream about a snake; you have an enemy. Dreaming about snakes hanging belly-up on the fence means the rain is your enemy.

If your nose itches, company is coming. See the knife/fork thing above.

Cross your fingers behind your back for luck; cross them twice for double luck. CAUTION: Don't try this one. I broke my fingers once trying to cross them when they were already crossed.

Don't go outside with a wet head or you will catch a cold. I keep trying to get this one past Sheri, but she makes me shower anyway.

Don't look at anything scary while you are pregnant or it will mark your baby. That partially explains me, as I'm certain my mom looked at my dad on occasion while she was carrying yours truly.

Don't plant potatoes during the dark part of the moon.

Plant your garden on Good Friday.

Don't plant your garden on Rotten Saturday, the seeds will rot.

While pregnant, don't reach higher than your head.

If you sweep under a woman's feet she won't get married.

If you drink coffee it will stunt your growth.

When the wind is out of the east fish bite the least; when the wind is out of the west fish bite the best.
I used to call the telephone weather report when I was a kid and wanted to go fishing, just for this reason.

To keep a cat off your car, put a hat on your hood. My grandma told me that wearing a hat would make me lose my hair. If I keep a hat on the hood of my Jeep, it won't grow hair I guess, and even if it does I could shave it but then it would just grow back thicker and darker. See how these things affect our lives every day?

Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning. Red sky at night, a sailor’s delight.

It's bad luck to walk under a ladder, or let a black cat cross your path.

There are two ways of stopping a run of bad luck if you walk under a ladder by accident. Cross your fingers and keep them crossed until you see a dog, or spit on your shoe and let it dry.
I'd rather just spit on the dog.

Breaking a mirror bring seven years of bad luck.

If you open a pocket knife, then you be the one to close it or bad luck will follow.

If you sew anything on Sunday; when you get to heaven you will have to pick the stitches out with your nose.
I guess our Heavenly Father really does have a sense of humor.

Hanging a dead wolf on a fence will warn the other wolves to stay away. It might keep idiots from hanging dead snakes belly-up too.

An acorn at the window will keep lightning out.

When a bell rings, a new angel has received his wings.
I actually like this one.

If you blow out all the candles on your birthday cake with the first puff you will get your wish.

If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it.
Where are all these black cats coming from anyway???

It's good luck to find a four-leaf clover. On the other hand, it's bad luck to spend hours on end looking for one when your time could have been spent doing something more productive.

It's bad luck to pick up a coin if it's tails side up. Good luck comes if it's heads up.

To insure good fortune for your baby throughout life, be sure that his first gift is a silver coin. Place it yourself into the child's hand. If the child drops it, she/he will have difficulty holding onto money throughout life. (Conversely, if the child grasps it tightly; she/he will be fortunate with money.) Be sure to remove the coin from the baby's grasp and carefully save it as the baby's personal amulet. Man, I need to have a serious talk with my parents.

If you spill pepper you will have a serious argument with your best friend. Will not!

A rabbit's foot will bring luck and protect the owner from evil spirits if carried in the pocket. Didn't fare too well for the rabbit now, did it?

A rainbow in the Eastern sky, The morrow will be fine and dry. A rainbow in the West that gleams, Rain tomorrow falls in streams.

A horseshoe, hung above the doorway, will bring good luck to a home.
Again, I have cats in the house and can see only bad things happening if I hang a horseshoe anywhere near them.

If you sing before seven, you will cry before eleven. Huh?

All wishes on shooting stars come true. tend to wish that the shooting star doesn't fall on me. So far, this one holds true.

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Who sticks around long enough to see?

You can tell what kind of husband a man will make by the way he treats his mother. Seriously Sheri... I never step on the cracks.

It's bad luck to open an umbrella inside the house, especially if you put it over your head. I've never had a leak in the roof bad enough to warrant this action anyway.

If you make a wish while throwing a coin into a well or fountain, the wish will come true. If you tell someone your wish, it won't come true. Doesn't make sense... throwing money into a fountain while wishing for more money.

Two people pull apart the dried breastbone of a chicken or turkey until it cracks and breaks, each one making a wish while doing so. The person who gets the long half of the wishbone will have his/her wish come true.

To predict the sex of a baby: Suspend a wedding band held by a piece of thread over the palm of the pregnant girl. If the ring swings in an oval or circular motion the baby will be a girl. If the ring swings in a straight line the baby will be a boy. This is why I keep getting beat up by pregnant women.

Cure leprosy and the plague by swallowing a spider rolled in butter. Uh, yeah... I'll be all over this one next time I have leprosy or the plague.

Well... there you have it, and this is but a partial list. I'm sure many of you have things that you learned as a youngster that seem out of place with reality today. I'd really like to hear some of your "truisms", so please feel free to share them with us.

And what was it my dad said that got me all stirred up about this?

When the cows are laying down, the catfish ain't bitin'.

Hardly worth the wait, was it?

Until next time...

Rubbing Elbows with the Famous

My daughter Rebecca called me earlier this week, the purpose of the call being to brag. I quickly prepared myself to "one up" her, until I heard her grounds for boasting. She is a customer service representative for DirecTV, which calls for her to assist DirecTV customers all over the country by way of telephone. It wasn't all that surprising then, when she asked me "Guess who I talked to yesterday."

I asked who she had talked to and she responded "Jeff Gordon." I'm sure she wanted to bring this to my attention knowing that he is my favorite of the NASCAR drivers. She asked if she was speaking with THE Jeff Gordon, but certain information in his account information already told her the answer. It was him.

I started thinking about the many people of fame that I have run across, and I found myself on another trip down Memory Lane.

I remember my dad telling a story about me and him being out in a boat on Lake Travis in Austin when I was a little kid, and almost being capsized by the secret service detail for President Lyndon B. Johnson. I don't personally remember this, but it might very well be my first brush with someone famous.

I wonder why we remember so well our meetings with celebrities. Aren't they just like us... for the most part? Aren't I as much a child of God as they are? Then why go all goo goo gaa gaa over a chance meeting with say... Dan Pastorini, starting quarterback for the Houston Oilers back in the '70's? He walked in to the movie theater where I was attending my station at the concession counter. My friend Curtis pointed him out and then asked "Hey, aren't you Dan Pastorini?" The response was a curt "Uh huh" and then he went down the isle to the movie.

I couldn't help but wonder how many times he hears that or something like it every day. Probably dozens, at least. I really liked Dan as our quarterback, but I thought he was a little rude to us kids behind the counter. But then again, why shouldn't he be? He was there to see a movie, not at some public function where he would be expected to be more gracious to his fans.

I was on a train once with John Madden, the television football analyst. I was traveling from Detroit to Los Angeles and I spotted him in the bar car showing off his Super Bowl ring that he won as the coach of the Oakland Raiders. I didn't talk to him, but every time I went through that bar car, he was there talking and having a good time and showing off that ring.

I don't know why I was afraid to go up to him and just say "Hi" or something. You never know how the celebrity will react and I was scared of looking like a fool, I guess. What if he had turned away and not even acknowledged my presence? Not likely, being John Madden, but I wasn't going to take the chance. I might today, being older and not as easily intimidated by fame.

I spent a few days in Graham Nash's house in Los Angeles back in the late '80's. He's the "Nash" part of "Crosby Stills & Nash" fame. I was working for my brother-in-law, Mike, refinishing hardwood floors and he got the call to do Nash's home. I never actually met the guy, because he had taken his family to Hawaii for a vacation before he went back on the road with Crosby and Stills. He had a very nice home, complete with a grand piano in the master bedroom.

There were quite a few projects going on with the house while he was gone. The studio upstairs was being refurbished, for one thing. One guy was in charge of all the work being done, kind of a "contractor to the stars" sort of guy. He came bounding downstairs during our second day there asking if anyone had seen a 6 foot boa constrictor by chance. I jumped atop the nearest piece of furniture I could find, which happened to be the dining room table, and gave him a vigorous negative answer. He explained that one of the workers apparently had knocked over the cage that keeps him from terrorizing hardwood floor refinishers and the public in general, and he had escaped and couldn't be located. I responded by volunteering to keep a sharp eye out for him from the safety of the tabletop. He then, very nonchalantly as if it were an afterthought and totally unrelated to the snake escape, let us in on the fact that one of the kittens was missing too.

I became very afraid that we would find the snake and the kitten at the exact same time, one inside the other. We didn't, and we were told the next day that both had been found, each in different places, and both unharmed. Just another day in the life, but while I was there, I ran across a telephone list taped to a small desk in the living room containing the names and telephone numbers of all sorts of famous people, mostly from the music industry. I wasn't really tempted to copy all of the numbers down for my own use, but I wonder what would have happened if I had and started making phone calls.

Sheri has told me how she saw Tiny Tim in the lobby of a hotel in Toledo, and Ted Nugent at the restaurant next door to where she was working in Lansing, Michigan. She didn't talk to Tiny Tim, but the workers where she was working sent her over to the restaurant to offer Nugent a bottle of champagne, him being the Motor City Madman and a local favorite.

I was at a red light in L.A. next to a car being driven by Marion Ross "Mrs. C." during the "Happy Days" days. Sheri asked me how I knew it was her, and I told her it wasn't only that I recognized her, but the icing of that particular cake was the royal blue "Happy Days" jacket hanging in the back window. I also saw Anthony Geary, "Luke Spencer" on "General Hospital" driving while I was standing in line at Randy's donuts, also in Los Angeles.

And speaking of "General Hospital", I was hired, along with my ex-wife Kelley and her brother Jack, to participate in a television commercial for ABC's new fall line-up back in 1982 or thereabouts. I was taken to wardrobe and dressed like a construction worker, placed on a landing along the gangplank leading to the Love Boat, and all the stars from GH, Happy Days, Hart to Hart, and a few other shows came running down the plank, right past us on the landing, and then onto the Pacific Princess. It was really neat to be a part of that and see how things in the television industry get done.

My favorite though, is when Sheri and I were married by Dan Pastorini's backup quarterback for the Houston Oilers some 25 years after I "met" Dan at that theater. Giff Nielsen had long since retired from professional football, when I knew him as my Elder's Quorum President. A few years later as Sheri and I were preparing for our wedding, I found out that he was called to be a bishop down where my parents lived in Missouri City, Texas. I asked him if he would perform the civil ceremony for Sheri and I, and he accepted. He even wore one of the six Hawaiian leis that I had imported from the islands for the occasion.

I still can't help but be intrigued by the need to rub elbows with the famous. I have never been an autograph seeker, except when I was a youth and went to quite a few Houston Astros baseball games. I didn't get many, but even then I wasn't really into that sort of thing. As I learn more and more about celebrities and the struggles they seem to have with their own fame, I wonder two things... Why did they bother to seek fame if they are ill prepared to handle it? And why do we even care?

I'm just asking.

Maybe it's because we spend so much time with these people that we feel as if we really do know them on a personal level. I don't know. I'd really like your insights on the subject. I don't have a whole lot of interest in meeting Keifer Sutherland, but I would like to have lunch someday with Jack Bauer. That, I could get into.

I'd like to hear about your brushes with fame though... they often make good entertaining stories.

Until next time...

A Good Walk Spoiled ?


Just the word alone stirs up a myriad of emotions inside those who have any level of passion for the game. Deep within the heart and soul of anyone who plays golf with any regularity lies a love hate relationship with the game. It almost becomes a form of self torture, the way we go out and play this game called golf, which, as Winston Churchill put it "is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into a even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose." It's not easy, and it's not supposed to be. That's the beauty of it, and that's the curse of it.

More than any other sport, golf lends itself to journeys of discovery. What one discovers is mostly up to the individual, however. I happen to love the game... and I believe firmly and unquestionably that it is the greatest game, and I believe this for several reasons.

1. Golf is played on courses that are as varied and diverse as they are beautiful and magnificent. Name another sport that is played on a field that changes from place to place to the degree that golf courses do. I can't. The game is different every time you play because the field of play changes... even if you play often on the same course. I have played on many courses throughout the country and I never tire of the different styles and beauty of each course I play.
Look at the fields other sports take place on. Baseball fields are all the same, football and basketball are played i basically the same defined spaces. Bowling alleys, tennis courts, soccer fields, hockey rinks... all the same. Even horse shoe pit dimensions are regulated. The venues may be a little different from location to location, but the actual playing fields are carbon copies of each other. This is not true in golf, and this adds to the beauty of the game.

Sheri bought a book for me this past Christmas called "Golf Courses of the World" that is made up of 365 pages (one for each day of the year, although it's not really a calendar) of absolutely stunning photographs of different golf courses with a short biography and description of the golf course pictured. I look at these photos and marvel at the artistry and the vision that it must have taken to turn a raw piece of land into such a rich and lush patch of greenery.

Golf courses, for all of their beauty and tranquility, cannot be tamed. Lou Graham said "If you try to fight the course, it will beat you." The course is as much a player in each round as you, your swing, your nerves, and your equipment. And they are infinitely more desirable to the senses that a bowling alley or tennis court.

2. Golf is a game of integrity, more so that any other game I know of. I do not remember the last time a baseball player called a strike on himself when he checked his swing. I've never heard of a basketball player who traveled when going to the hoop, stop and call traveling on himself. I can't even imagine a football player who trapped a catch and when the officials did not blow their whistles stopped and told the referees that he did not catch the ball. These things do not happen in other sports, but golf is different.

Back in October of 2005, Paula Creamer finished her round in a tie for 23rd in the Office Depot Championship held at Trump National in California, and would have collected a check for $11,859. However, after the round Creamer realized that she had switched out her 5 iron for a 3-wood to complete her round on Monday morning.

Under the rules of golf, generally, players are not allowed to switch clubs within the same "round." (However, there are exceptions.) Because of the round being suspended on Sunday night and requiring a Monday finish, the final "round" of golf never ended. So when Paula switched the clubs in her bag, she, I believe, would have been penalized 2 strokes a hole up to 4 total strokes for each hole she played with the new 3-wood. But in this case, Paula already had signed her card and was on her way home. As a result, she was disqualified!! Unfortunately for Paula, this mistake cost her a bit of shopping money and at least travel expenses.

The fact that Paula turned herself in is what makes golf great! Golf is a game of integrity where players consistently call penalties on themselves, when players violate the rules. One example that comes to mind was Jeff Maggert in the Masters a few years ago (when Weir won), and Jeff hit the ball out of the bunker that came back and hit him in the chest. The broadcasters commentating on the event did not realize that the ball had even hit him, and if there were not television cameras allowing slow motion replay, I doubt that anyone would have ever noticed. But Maggert, being honest, called a 2 stroke penalty on himself and again made the rules of the game and integrity of the sport great. A person who can't be honest with themselves on the golf course is the person to keep a watchful eye on in business.

3. Golf is a game that is not so much played against an opponent, as it is against one's self. I can play a round of golf alone, or with four other people, but either way, it's still just me and that little white ball. I once missed a four foot putt on the 18th green, straight and slightly uphill, the put that I would normally make 99 out of 100 times, but I yipped it so bad that I missed it 2 feet to the left. Why? Because that one putt would have doubled up $225 that my opponent was already down to me.

Thinking about that one putt still makes me sick to my stomach. I could blame many factors for that miss... there was a sudden breeze, someone on the green moved, someone else made a noise, a bird made a noise, some kid in the next county made a noise, the was an earthquake in California that shifted the green just enough to throw my ball off course as soon as I struck it perfectly, or any other such feeble excuse. The truth of the matter is... I choked. It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last. Golf can create tremendous pressure in the body and soul of the golfer. Some pressures are from nature, some come from within, and some are self imposed. Lee Trevino said once "You don't know what pressure is until you play for five bucks with only two bucks in your pocket."

It wasn't Don, my opponent, that made me miss the putt. In tennis, the aim is to hit the ball where your opponent can't return it. In baseball, the goal is, as Wee Willie Keeler so elegantly put it, "to hit it where they ain't." Football is brute force against brute force to muscle the ball into the opponent's territory. But golf, is played in the mind. The great Bobby Jones said "Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears." Man, did I ever learn that lesson that day!

There is much to be learned on a golf course, other than the game itself.

Quoting Bobby Jones again, "Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the ball where it lies." Anyone who reads my blog knows that I love a good metaphor, and golf surely fits into that category. Adding to the metaphor at hand, Peter Jacobsen once said "One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot - the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something."

I can only speak for myself, but learning how to handle adversity on the golf course has helped me in dealing with it off the course as well. Learning to be a good sportsman has come to me more on the golf course than anywhere else. Golf is full of every emotion that can be experienced in our everyday lives. Disappointment, anger, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, joy, excitement, wavering nerves, up one minute and down the next, tranquility, inner peace, inner turmoil, and pure happiness.

This is Lynn playing a game against no one else but Lynn. Talk about a journey of discoveries.

4. Golf is a tranquil sport. I find that as I get older, I search for and relish the quieter moments in life. Golf, by its very nature, provides that level of serenity. I especially enjoy golf when I'm alone. The subtle sounds of the breeze in the trees, the aromatic smells of the clean air and freshly cut grass, the stunning beauty of the manicured fairways and greens. I love the sounds of silence broken only by the crack of the club hitting the ball. I never fatigue of hearing the ball drop into the cup. I love to walk a golf course, even on occasion when I'm just walking and not playing.

5. Golf can never truly be mastered. Ask Arnold. Ask Jack. Ask even Tiger. Ask any of the other thousands of professional golfers, or the millions of duffers, scuffers, and weekend warriors who play this game if the game can be conquered. It can't. Ask Gay Brewer who said "Golf is a game you can never get too good at. You can improve, but you can never get to where you master the game." That pretty much makes my point, doesn't it?

I know of no other sport in which one must be in such total harmony with his body. The swing is the basic mechanical necessity of the game, and the swing is a minor player when compared to the mental and emotional components that are required. Listen to the advice Bagger Vance gave to Junah in "The Legend of Bagger Vance."

"Put your eyes on Bobby Jones... Look at his practice swing, almost like he's searchin' for something... Then he finds it... Watch how he settle hisself right into the middle of it, feel that focus... He got a lot of shots he could choose from... Duffs and tops and skulls, there's only ONE shot that's in perfect harmony with the field... One shot that's his, authentic shot, and that shot is gonna choose him... There's a perfect shot out there tryin' to find each and every one of us... All we got to do is get ourselves out of its way, to let it choose us... Can't see that flag as some dragon you got to slay... You got to look with soft eyes... See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turnin' of the Earth, all come together... where everything that is, becomes one... You got to seek that place with your soul Junuh... Seek it with your hands don't think about it... Feel it... Your hands is wiser than your head ever gonna be... Now I can't take you there Junuh... Just hopes I can help you find a way... Just you... that ball... that flag... and all you are..."

Wow... pure beauty, this game of golf.

6. Golf can be played by anyone. The United States Golf Association ( ), is a non-profit organization run by golfers for the benefit of golfers. Programs all over the world give players of every age, race, gender, and social standing access to this great game. Players like the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus, the Merry Mex Lee Trevino, and my dad made me want to play the game when I was young, and kids of all races look to players like Tiger as a role model, as do lefties look to Phil Mickelson.

When I was a youngster, my father played in local golf tournaments all across Texas. I loved to go on these trips with him and follow him around the course. I learned the non-playing part of the game by watching him and others and how they conducted themselves on the course. I was a good student of the game, learning quickly when to be still and quiet, where I should stand to be out of the way, how and where and when to mark the ball on the green... that kind of stuff. I also got a few caddying gigs now and then, making some serious coin for a kid of 12 or 13 years of age.

I started playing golf when a friend of my dad's, Pat Derrick, won some irons in a golf tournament in El Campo, Texas. He gave me his old set of Royal clubs and I started playing at a local par three course, riding my bike to get there most of the time and with my bag of clubs hanging from my shoulder. I had no lessons, other than from my dad, and I was mostly a duffer, hitting just enough decent shots to keep me coming back for more. A lot like my game in recent years. When my family moved to Quail Valley, my father joined the country club and I started taking lessons. I played the par three course, the 9 hole El Dorado course, and the 18 hole La Quinta course.

When I was about 14 or 15, my friends and I would sneak out of our houses at night with which bags to collect golf balls (mine was an empty pillow case), and we would go to one of the many water holes and swim most of the night, diving and feeling around with out bare feet for golf balls that didn't quite make it to the greens. I'd take my treasure back home and clean the balls in our kitchen sink with some soap and a scrub brush purchased just for the task, and as most of the balls were new, I never had to buy golf balls as a youth to play the game.

I have never hit a hole in one. I came close once on a par 3 when my ball rolled up and hit the flagstick, bouncing mere inches away from the hole. I have hit in from 150 yards out, chipped in from off the green, made putts that seemed impossible to get even close, and it's those moments that keep me coming back. I have also missed easy putts, (see the example above), skulled, topped, sliced, hooked, shanked, and completely missed the ball. I have hit the middle of the green from 200 yards out and then couldn't reach the next green from 3 feet off the putting surface. I once hit a ball that barely clipped the top branch of a tree that I was trying to hit over, bounced straight down hitting a rock on the cart path, and bounced right back into my hand about 75 yards back from the tree. I never had to move an inch.

Moments like that become memories that tend to stay with me. I remember the course I was playing, I remember the hole it happened on, I remember with whom I was enjoying this round of golf. I also remember how my dad laughed at this impossible shot I had just made.

7. Any player can be competitive with any other player. The USGA Handicap System™ enables golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. I could go out and play with Tiger and possibly even win the match, if given enough of a handicap... probably around 5 or 6 strokes a hole. It's an inner battle with which we as golfers struggle to overcome... we want to be known as the best, but shooting lower scores lowers our handicaps thus making it easier for others to outscore us next time out. Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

The dramatic, exotic, and punishing beauty of the course, the inner struggle to gain an impossible perfection, the peace and tranquility of being alone with one's own thoughts for a few hours, the perspective on life that the game offers, the competitiveness of a four foot putt for $225, and the endless variety of people that one can meet on the golf course is why I play the game.

One more thought for Ben, Brian, Kip, Tyson, Chris and any other dentist who has dared to take up the game... E.V. Knox said "Golf is played with a number of striking implements more intricate in shape than those used in any form of recreation except dentistry." Hmmmmm. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Mark Twain described golf as "A good walk spoiled." I rather view it as a good walk made better.

No, golf is not just a great game... it's the greatest game.

I will see you on the links.

Until next time...

As I run every red light on Memory Lane...

The first thing I remember is living in a yellow house. I don't know why I remember that, but I do. I remember playing with a fire truck on the living room floor while my dad was napping on the sofa, and I would wake him from time to time to ask him for a tool to fix my broken vehicle. It wasn't really broken, but I clearly had early ambitions of becoming a fire truck mechanic. He patiently took a penny out of his shirt pocket, I used it to "repair" the truck, and then handed it back to Dad, only to repeat the whole procedure over again as soon as he dozed off I'm sure.

Why do I remember things like this, but have a difficult time remembering my own home telephone number, or which day exactly does trash day fall on?

I remember living on a cul-de-sac called Syracuse Cove in Austin when my twin sisters were born. We lived there until I was five and a half (those half years were very important to me at the time). I still remember the address too. We had a collie named Butch and Deanna and Kim lived a few houses down and across the street. I remember having a dream that I went across the street to play football with the big kids, but I got scared when every play ended up in a huge pile of tangled arms and legs and bodies. Funny, huh?

We moved then to a house on Sierra Madre where the alleged goat incident took place. I remember the address there too. Butch made the move and stayed with us until we gave him to my Uncle Curly in Houston. We had another dog named Mike. He was an awesome pet too, bigger than Butch, still very gentle with us kids.

We moved to Houston when I was in the fourth grade. I hated my new school, and didn't think too highly of my new teacher either. I was miserable there. We lived with my mom's mother and father for a few months and then moved across town. We did a lot of moving around Houston. I remember having a yo-yo while we lived on Gardenia Ave with my grandparents. I also remember the smells of my grandmother's cooking every evening and the television shows that they watched while I laid on the living room floor and pretended to understand what we were viewing.

I think it's fun sometimes, to take a ride down Memory Lane. I've had some wonderful times in my life, and I get a warm feeling when I relive some of those times. There's a need for a big yellow caution sign at the entrance to this path however. When I find myself spending too much time there, things in the present go unnoticed or lacking their due attention. So I don't spend a lot of time on Memory Lane, but I do like to go there on occasion because there is a wealth of information just waiting down that road for me to come back and grab it. It's not always by choice that I find myself thinking about things down on that lane either... there's usually something that jolts me right back to a specific moment in time.

It's funny, the things that elicit certain memories. Humans have memory triggers that set off very strong recollections of past experiences. A memory trigger can be a sound, a particular scent, or something you see that flashes us back into our past. These triggers cause us to relive long ago times so intensely, nothing else exists but the moment we are reliving. Memories relived so strongly, so vividly, that we feel the same feelings we felt when the memory was born.

I find that certain smells can be the most powerful of triggers, at least in my case.

The smell of cedar trees takes me back to the woods where I roamed and explored with Payson. We stalked unseen deer and raccoons and the occasional armadillo. We found clearings that we would immediately turn into our club headquarters, only to never be able to find again. We took hikes up and down the creek, ate lunches in fields of clover, took our first hits of tobacco products, and that wonderful smell of cedar was in the background, with us always.

The smell of pot roast stirs up pleasant memories of my grandmother's cooking. When I was a kid, I never tired of Grandma's pot roast with potatoes and carrots. There might be corn on the cob, always some fresh baked dinner rolls. I so looked forward to these dinners that I was uncharacteristically oblivious to any desserts that were waiting for us after the main meal. The possible choices at my grandparents house was staggering too... apple pies, pecan pies, cakes, Jell-o or pudding, fresh baked cookies, Blue Bell ice cream, banana pudding... the list goes on and on. The table would be set, all that food was out there and smelling so delicious, and we would sit down at our regular places, say a prayer, and commence to partake of our spoils... what I like to call "The laying on of dinner."

Boiled eggs remind me of the time my father and I spent the night in our front yard waiting for a lunar eclipse. We never saw it, or at least I never saw it... Dad might have but I fell asleep. We ate Easter eggs from the week before so boiled eggs equal lunar eclipse. See? And when I think about that night waiting for the moon to darken, I invariably recall how I used to get up early on Saturday mornings to watch "Heckle & Jeckle" and sometimes Dad would get up early to watch with me, and then go back to bed. All that from the smell of boiled eggs.

Certain perfumes remind me of different girls I dated. Amusement parks have that scent about them that bring forth memories of my summer working at Astroworld in Houston. Even the aroma of freshly cut grass will often cause an instantaneous flashback to my teenage years when I used to cut my grandfather's lawn. Yes, smells can most assuredly jog us to some pretty cool remembrances.

Music is another one for me. The first song I remember really liking was "Dream Dream Dream" by the Everly Brothers. Today, when I hear it, I remember the elementary school I was going to at the time, all the way down to the layout of my third grade classroom, the playground, the cafeteria, and where my mom picked me up after school. Paul Muriat's "Love is Blue" puts me right on the banks of the Pedernales River, fishing with my father in about 1968 or so.

Anything disco causes a usually funny reflection of my mid-teenage years. Barry Manilow stirs up different memories, Led Zeppelin still others, and a wide variety of songs of the era generate an equally wide variety of memories. I, for one, am not opposed to this either.

Most of the memories I have are good ones, and I enjoy going back and reliving them for a few short moments. Some are not so pleasant or fun to recall, but either way, they have become fuel for many of the things I write about for this blog.

Old photographs are another good memory jogger. (Side note: Have you ever heard someone say "This is a picture of me when I was younger"? How can a picture of someone not be of when they were younger? I'd like just once to see a picture taken of someone of when they were older. End of side note.) I see pictures of me on vacations and at school and in different situations and times of my life that conjures up memories of those times. Isn't that, after all, why we take photos in the first place... so we can remember the emotions we were experiencing when we took them? It sure works for me.

So when is the last time you took a ride or a stroll down Memory Lane? There's much to be seen and heard and even re-experienced there, if you'll only take the time to go once in a while. I'm not suggesting that we spend an unhealthy amount of time with this, but in order to have a full and complete perspective on ourselves, we all must examine the little things from our own personal histories that have made us who we are today.

It's not always pretty, it's not always fun, and it really shouldn't always be pleasant... but it should be accessible to us whenever we see the need for self evaluation, shouldn't it? There are people who keep every greeting card they've ever received, and there are others who barely tear the envelope before tossing its contents. I tend to be the former and I don't get the latter. Each of these habits is demonstrative of a particular worldview. While some people struggle to hold onto the past and, as the cliché goes, "keep their memories alive," there are just as many people who push forward into the future without ever looking back.

Conventional wisdom suggests that living in the past is non-productive and a waste of time at best, and unhealthy, even dangerous at worst. I tend to agree with that assessment, but that's not really what I'm talking about. Let me explain the difference as I see it. Living in the past is hoping and wishing for a time that can never be regained, while taking trips down Memory Lane is looking at the past, and gaining information from it.

We are all limited as far as how many things we can focus on at one time to one. One thing at any given moment. That's not to say we don't notice other events in our surroundings, we do... but our conscious mind can pay close attention to really only one thing at a time. Therefore, if we are spending too much of our lives living in the past, we can't be really focusing on the present, or even preparing for the future, can we?

I think Thomas S. Monson said it best when he gave the following counsel:

The past is behind, learn from it.

The future is ahead, prepare for it.

The present is here, live it.

I trust that good advice, and I just hope that I will always have the time to take a trip into my past every now and again without being in such a hurry that I feel as though I have to run every red light on Memory Lane while I'm there.

I'm concerned that I might drive right by those wonderful learning opportunities.

Until next time...