Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dear Abby

Dear Abby ...
Dear Abby, It’s my fault. 
I only wanted to make things better when I decided to repair my fence.
Last summer I noticed that some of the fence posts had rotted. I talked with my neighbor and told him that I would fix our common fence. He agreed and said he had thought about it, but hadn’t gotten around to it.
We have an open gate policy between us, when he needs to borrow an item he opens the gate and knocks on my door. 
When he needs to have his swamp cooler serviced each year, he knocks on my door. When he wants a bolt or a nail, he knows I keep a supply in my shed. Lately he has trouble climbing ladders so when a light bulb needs changing, he knocks on my door. When his roof leaked, I repaired the shingles. When he got a DVD player he needed me to install the player. When his sprinklers needed repairing, I fixed the water line. When the clock wouldn’t stop blinking, I replaced the battery. When his air bed wouldn’t work right I helped to find the problem. When his tree fell over, I took my chainsaw and cut it up. When he needed me to help move some furniture, I drove the moving truck 500 miles and helped to load and unload.  When he needed me to help build on an extra bedroom, I volunteered to help for 3 weeks. When his recliner broke, I replaced some parts. When they tired of answering phone calls, I gave them my answering machine. When he asked me to pick up some new trees, I dug the holes and planted them for him. Each month when I travel out of town to buy groceries, I have a list of things to pick up for him. I guess it’s partly my fault, I am a carpenter and handyman by trade. I don’t really mind, he is getting older and isn’t able to do many things.
The other day he told me that he had paid his dues in helping others when they needed help and now that he needs help, it is my turn to help him.
As I began to gather materials I talked to him about buying the lumber. He told me where to buy the same rough cut lumber that he had used.
I told him I wanted to make some improvements and make the gate larger. That way when I cut his grass each week I wouldn’t have to go around to the street side to get my lawn mower in his yard.
I drew a picture of my plans and took it over for his inspection. 
The next week I told him I had ordered the lumber and would be traveling 150 miles round trip to pick it up.
When I arrived with the lumber he inspected it. He watched me as I dug the holes and replaced each of the damaged posts. When I started building the gate he came over as the dutiful sidewalk inspector and watched me. Over the next two days he watched as I rebuilt the fence, added the new supports and then placed the fence slats.
That was last summer.
Last week I got an email asking me to let them use my home to do their laundry, I was visiting family out of town. 
This is the message :
April 24
gary , my dad need a favor, mom's drier finally died or burned up which ever and he needs to know if mom can use yours until they can go and buy a new one. They would really appreciate it. The dryer was only 30 yrs old. Please let me know asap so I can let dad know. Thanks
April 25
good morning
I'm on my way to bed, I'll check back later to see if you got my message. 
April 25
gary, my dad ask me to ask you again about using your dryer. If you feel uncomfortable about us going in your house, we promise not to bother anything, please let me know asap
April 25
Gary, my dad ask me to ask you 1 last time about using your dryer. He is very unhappy, 1st because you won't reply to my requests and second you always say if you need any help you just need to ask. Well he is asking for a favor & this is how you answer. Again if it is the fact that you think we are going to do something in the house or take something, I have said we wouldn't. Think about it and please let me know what to tell dad.
April 26
Gary I noticed that I'm not on friend list is there a reason why?
The final straw came when they called my 83 year old mother to complain ... and besides that, they don’t like the fence.
What should I do?

Monday, April 16, 2012


I awakened to the sound of doves outside my window this morning. I watched them walk across the window sill, they paused to look at me through the window and then flew off to find a mate. 
The sun is shining here in Texas, the temperature is a balmy 78 degrees. 
I checked the weather conditions back home in Escalante. Burrrrr, it is cold. Today, is a good day to be here. 
I decided to take a walk down to the park. My brother in law was walking with me. He walks faster than me so I have to push myself to keep up.
I got a small rock in my shoe. At first it didn’t bother me but as I walked, it began to irritate my foot. 
I thought I could wait until we got back to take off my shoe and shake out the pebble but my pain was increasing with each step.
When I stopped, my brother in law continued on unaware.
I watched as the distance between us grew greater and greater.
With the rock out of my shoe, I hurried to catch up. As I got closer I noticed he was carrying on a conversation as though I was next to him.
I laughed a little and took my place next to him.
I wondered, should I tell him?
Nah, why make him feel bad.
There have been people in my life who have been like that pebble. I thought I could stand the discomfort until it was more convenient to remove them.
Today I think differently.
I stop often for pebbles. 
Some to pick up, others to discard.
Life has been like that for me. 
I have a small rock in my pocket right now. I picked it up in Hawaii. It is a reminder of a magical journey.
There will be other pebbles and other journeys.
It is my choice of which to pick up and which to discard.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tree People

Tree People
Three Thirty! 
In the morning? 
OK, give me a minute to wake up.
It was quiet in the neighborhood. 
The dogs had finally quit barking.
The stars are bright tonight.
I walked out side. It was a little chilly so I went back and got a jacket.
It is not the first time that this has happened and probably not the last.
I looked around the neighborhood.
No one else was awake.
The street light lit up the street and I saw a pine tree across the street.
I looked at it.
It was tall, probably close to a hundred years old.
I had a thought.
I walked over to the tree and stood there and put my hands on it.
Nothing yet ...
Oh, you are the one that woke me up?
You have a message for me?
Do you want me to write it down?
I’ll remember it?
Ok, go ahead.
Uh huh ...
How long?
What do you want me to do?
Ok, I will.
The next morning when I awoke, I waited for my wife to wake up.
My mind was pondering the things that happened early this morning.
Are you sure you want me to tell her?
OK ...
I related the events of the night to my wife. She sat on the bed with her eyes open and fully attentive to my words.
When I finished, she sat silent for a minute and then said ...
Yes, this is true.
It’s been going on for many years.
Everyone knows about it, but they don’t want to talk about it.
Even the cops know not to venture into certain places after dark.
We got dressed and ate some breakfast.
I want to show you some things here, she said.
She took me to the local church and showed me a huge rock.
Look at it!
What do you see?
What do you feel?
Walk over here and look at the pentagram pattern in the cement.
Can you see it?
Can you feel it?
What unfolded was an emotional story of lust, power, abuse, drugs, and corrupt church leaders.
I heard it from those who experienced it first hand.
Family members who have had their lives shattered.
Emotional abuse.
Sexual abuse.
Drugged victims who were forced to watch horrendous acts upon others.
Physical abuse.
This is what the tree told me.
My extended family confirmed it.
Every act of goodness or wrong is recorded by nature. 
The trees record the weather patterns in their rings.
They also record the events that they witness.
This information is available to anyone who will listen.
I heard the message loud and clear.
There is a tree in Nevada that is 4,800 years old.
Outside of Logan Utah is a juniper stump that is 3,200 years old.
General Sherman in Sequoia national forest is about 2,500 years old.
The tree people are watchers. 
They are also story tellers.
I often see tree huggers when I hike. 
Some are embarrassed, but others are proud of their feelings towards the trees.
I often think about that tree in Snowflake Arizona and wonder if others have also heard the story.
That tree reminded me tonight that it time to tell the world.
The beginning of the end starts with listening.