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Observations, Insights, Etc.

This mighty leaf stood in my path as today's walk along the Tulsa River Trails drew near its close. This discarded tree organ seemed so out of place, settled as it was a good distance from the nearest towering plantae. The breadth and scope of this titan leaf far exceeded any of its fallen brethren. One can only imagine how beautiful it must have looked when full of life, and yet it retained such grace and power in death, its webbed limbs curled as if straining to crawl across this asphalt ribbon before some rushing bike or errant stroller crushed its dry, dry bones. Perhaps it shook as I came on, my nose seemingly locked in The Fellowship of the Ring. Little did this severed limb know my eyes ever scan the path for such obstacles, and thus it survived approximately 17 minutes longer than anticipated, until a weary jogger crunched the browned petal beneath his size 12 Nikes. And thus this amazing leaf found its final resting place on the path unwinding In the circle, the circle of life... sing it now...

— Nov. 26, 2017

Strangest thing just happened as I entered a Tulsa mall to get my glasses repaired. Striding into the main corridor, I slowed to give the right of way to three overweight people rambling by. They seemed to run in slow motion, their eyes rolling dazed and confused as each sought to master arms full of unruly T-shirts and other casual ware so fresh off their displays, they remained bound by their hangers. The middle member of this trio stumbled a bit and dropped a large shirt right in front of me, which slipped off its hangar to land almost perfectly flat. That lady paused in mid-step, perhaps contemplating what to do, before abandoning the prize in pursuit of the burdened one before her. I started to pick the garment up, but this whole scenario looked so suspicious I hesitated. That's when the trailing lady, still scrambling with her burden, bent down to lift the fallen T-shirt, leaving the hangar. With but a brief juggle, she mastered that deed and resumed her journey. I then saw a hefty lady in a security uniform walk up, just as another snti-dieter across the hall called out that Victoria's Secret had just been robbed. That struck me as curious, for the things I'd seen atop those belly bundles were certainly not from any VS stock I knew. Not that I'm any sort of expert there -- far from it, not counting that "Fox on the Run" video I sometimes watch -- but I probably recognize screen prints on pastel cotton polyester as well as anyone else. The security lady nodded to the caller and pressed on, never breaking her stride. At that point I decided to focus on my glasses, while I still had glasses to focus on.

— Oct. 6, 2017

One of the more eventful things about buying a new car is emptying the old one, assuming you're divesting it as I did. The trunk still had stuff I'd set aside from dad's attic months ago, but didn't want to face. Then there were the safety measures, like the multiple flashlights and tools that somehow accumulated in various nooks and crannies, the long-lost business cards and maps, the matted towels I'd used as floor mats to protect the manufacturer floor mats (important stuff to getting top resale values), the cigarette lighter compartment stuffed with forgotten extra sugar packets, the spare bottle of Mobil 1 and winter windshield washer fluid (does this stuff expire?). the extra winter jacket and thermal coveralls that dad insisted I keep in my trunk after I survived my nine-car pileup. Sometimes it's heartbreaking, and then sometimes it just cracks you up... like the emergency medical kit with saving graces that expired 15 years ago...

— Dec. 10, 2016

Friday was the big day, one of those truly monumental days of epoch lore, and thus I decided to start that game-changer of a freezing morning off right with (can you guess, Heather?) a pair of Chick-fil-A biscuits and a large, inviting cup of soothing iced tea. Yes, it's the natural choice for one who lives in an ever boisterous state of self-parody, even when distracted by the great tasks still before me. So I strode directly to the counter, only to hear a lovely cashier say, "Chick-fil-A biscuit and a large unsweet iced tea?" To which I replied, "That's TWO Chick-fil-A biscuits and a large unsweet tea!" Which of course she already knew, as I've ordered that precise breakfast meal at least once a week for seemingly the last five consecutive years now. In truth, that's actually what she'd said to begin with, as I realized after my words slipped my lips. She overlooked my oversight, her smile shining ever so brightly, but to prove she knew exactly what I wanted, she almost sang with a bubbly lilt, "And that's with extra lemon, correct?" Her repartee continued a game almost every employee there can follow, since by apparent franchise law their counter staff must ask each customer if they want sauces for their food and lemon for their tea, even though they've all had heard me say hundreds of times that I never, ever, ever upon God's green earth would wish such adornments for my food, nor fruit for

my tea. Not even a bout of perilous scurvy would dare make me add lemon to the elixir of life, one of God's seven great gifts to mankind (alongside chocolate, the Nissan Z that GI Joe stole Barbie's fickle plastic heart with, the '63 split-window Stingray renowned among the ages of man, and a few other items revealed to me in a great dream many, many years ago). So I made the expected playful

protest, to which she just beamed all the brighter while ringing up my bill. At that moment I remembered my intention to pay for this endeavor with the remaining quarters from Thursday's vaunted PikePass-less excursion to OKC (a different story there), so I asked her to pause just a moment while I ran out to the rental car (part of that different story) to retrieve my change. And when I returned, I found she'd checkmated my game play with this endearing note!

— Dec. 10, 2016

I enjoyed an amazing walk around the lake this afternoon. After a long discussion about turtles and geese with a neighbor, I encountered a beautiful reflection of downtown Tulsa upon a surprisingly robust Arkansas River. In the neighboring park I crossed paths with an old man, who stepped forth to assure me Jesus would relieve all my burdens. Crossing over the waters, I paused to take some pictures and heard some fluttering to my right. A gorgeous white dove lifted off to circle around me, its wings slowly waving through the breeze, stroke by stroke, just barely climbing in height, before it suddenly seemed to decide on a direction and disappeared into the sky. I soon paused to hear another old man share with joy how he'd just started a class to enter the hospitality industry. He was bare chested, at least a decade ahead of me in years, and yet he was energized to get out and find work, to support himself anew. Not even a football field on down my path, a little girl riding on the back of a tricycle asked about my habit of reading and walking. She made a point of wishing me well and a good afternoon, again and again, as her driver pulled away, but not before offering me her own good-bye. Upon crossing once again to my river's edge, I rounded a corner to find a squirrel among a small group of neighborhood birds, all foraging for food between the apartments. The ever-nervous squirrel soon took to a tree. As I circled about the trunk, I found two ducks sitting at its base, patiently watching all of us scamper around. So I stood there, watching them, and they sat there, watching me. Eventually the ducks waddled off towards the lagoon, never saying a word, yet leaving me marveling anew at the beautiful coexistence that is, and always should be, life.

— April 10, 2017

As my life changed this last Thanksgiving, I inventoried the wonderful bounty of God's provision and, in so doing, realized I had not eaten a waffle for more than three decades. Don't ask me how or why this revelation came to mind — just take it as insight of how my well-honed guidance system works and move on with me from there. Since waffles had been a childhood favorite of my parents and mine — there were many times way back when that dad or mom simply made us waffles for our meals — I decided then and there that I just absolutely had to address this failing in my character (perhaps marking the first semblance of a bucket list in my reckoning), and since I try now to sample recognized quality in all such endeavors, I would meet this goal by making my very first visit to the only commercial chain that specializes in these stamped and pressed products, the Waffle House. That was the goal and plan. But as some of you know, it never happened. Every time I approached a Waffle House, or even contemplated a waffle, I somehow talked myself out of it, mostly for dietary considerations. I'm nearly 60, after all, and must be more responsible about what I inject into this aging shell. But this morning, as I arose to find myself facing a nearly flat tire, my mind saw this as the sign that today — indeed, that very hour — was the destined moment. I would eat a waffle as my tire was repaired. So dropping my car off at the shop that sold me that tire, I crossed busy Memorial on foot, braving the crazed drivers who sought only my demise, and in a remarkable fit of endurance and bravery, I thrust open the Village Inn doors, walked past their amazing pie display without sampling even a morsel of that ever-so-enchanting whipped cream topping, and won admittance to a booth where the anointed waitress awaited my every order preference. Again the dietary concerns sought to wrestle with my mind, but knowing that I faced my supreme moment of destiny for that particular minute of time, I ordered not just a waffle with an abundance of butter, but real maple syrup, a scrambled egg, and two strips of bacon. My heart shuddered, but once it remembered that I had taken aspirin and fish oil with my vitamins that morning, it calmed down and came to an understanding, as did the rest of me, that epoch revelation arrived on that plate. At first I was disappointed, for the golden brown pastry seemed cold, but then I remembered that only fresh off the griddle did these things truly melt butter. With that I took heart, for one touch of that adjoining container showed my maple syrup was more than hot enough for this task. So with building passion, girded by patience, I spread my butter ever so gently over that pocked circle of gastric delight. I raised the glass vase, slid back its thin safety valve, and drenched my meal with the rich hazel nectar that has sustained Vermont for generations upon generations. Lifting my fork with a sigh usually heard only before presents on Christmas morn, I cut off my first chunk of pressed bread, about a square and a half dripping in syrup, and savored that wonderfully sweet smoothness of maple butter over puffed crispness. It was like tasting sunshine. I then enjoyed my second bite, amazed that the sensation was every blessing I remembered of my youth. But by the third bite, my novelty-driven joy faded before honest realization that this childhood delicacy was indeed exactly what I remembered, a sugary indulgence that I no longer felt comfortable eating. By bite five I almost decided not to finish it, but my inborn stubbornness would not allow me to walk away from something I'd ordered. So it was with pent-up gratitude that I finally ended that waffle's existence and started on the eggs and bacon. And as I slid that sticky plate aside, I was reminded once more just how hard it is to reclaim, much less take comfort in, what we feel we've lost. I also realized why I had subconsciously resisted making this journey for so long... indeed, why I'd stopped eating these things years upon years before.

— May 27, 2016

If you don't have any baking soda paste to rub into your stainless steel sink stains, try letting an aspirin tablet dissolve on the spot overnight. Come morning, the stain will still be there, and so will the aspirin. If not, you'd better call the police. Rest assured that tablet will make your thief easily identified from all those other people toting stainless steel sinks around your neighborhood. And that's your Crimestoppers tip for today.

— Nov 24, 2017

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