Friday, July 21, 2017

Notes from a Midlife Crisis

When Socrates insisted that "the unexamined life is not worth living," most people agree that he was encouraging us to examine our interior lives, the ideas and beliefs and motivations and choices and reactions that propel us through the world. Ever since I turned 50 a few months ago, however, I've been equally interested in doing some exterior examination: How have I changed over the years? Do the physical changes I've gone through in the last few decades--the added pounds, the new wrinkles, the ever-multiplying gray hairs and slowly-receding hair line (and, if I'm really honest, the additional chins...*sigh*)--say anything about the interior changes that I've also experienced?

Yeah, probably. I don't know. Maybe.

But there's one thing I can say: My hair has changed quite a bit over the years, but my hair style hasn't changed at all. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, indeed.

The above picture is me from sometime around 1977 until July of 2017, approximately every thirteen or fourteen years. Maybe one of the reasons looking back on my life like this is valuable is because, seeing myself at ten, at twenty-three, at thirty-eight, I can remember many wonderful things from my life at those times, and, if I'm smart (and that's a big if!), it prompts me to count all the wonderful things there are in my life right now, even if I am (gulp!) fifty years old. Midlife may not be quite as much fun or as free as childhood, or young adulthood, or not-young-but-still-not-old adulthood, but it's still life, and that's worth a lot.

Also, I find a great deal of pleasure in this Peanuts strip from 1973, drawn when Charles M. Schulz himself was fifty:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Drive Through the North Georgia Mountains

Today I went on a drive to and through the north Georgia mountains.

Except for Suches, I'm not even sure where I went. I missed a turn in Gainesville and from that point on I used my cell phone's GPS for navigation, but it routed me around rather than through Dahlonega (which my printed directions, the ones I was following until I realized I should have gotten off I-985 a few miles back, would have taken me through; I had intended to make Dahlonega one of my stops). Google Maps doesn't show the names of towns on the cell phone screen as you go through them, just road names, so for quite a while during my drive I didn't know where I was.

Well, I knew where I was, of course; I was right there in the car with me. I mean, wherever you go, there you are, as Buckaroo Banzai said (or whoever it really was), but that doesn't mean you always know where there is.

But regardless of whatever there I was driving through, I had a good time in the mountains. I really love them. I need to spend more time up there.

Most of the pictures I took don't look that great, but here are three that are okay:

(That's my little white car parked at the Chestatee Overlook.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today, much to my own amazement, I turned fifty years old!

Which means that forty-nine years ago, I turned one:

and forty-six years ago, I turned four:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Chris and Jeff in Pa's Attic with Trains, Tucker, GA, 1975

My grandfather had a train in his attic.

It was a toy electric train, of course, and the track was nailed down to the floorboards in a figure 8, with a span of plastic trestles so the tracks went both over and under themselves, as you can see in the picture. I remember climbing the pull-down metal steps to play with the train with my grandfather--"Pa" to me, the same thing my own children call my father--and being captivated not only by the train, but by the other things that lived there: a pink plastic baby crib (whose headboard you can glimpse in this picture, nestled in the floor joists just behind me and to the left), and my uncle Danny's model airplanes (the kind that really fly), and Christmas decorations (except in December, of course), and countless things I know where there but which, try as I might, I just can't quite picture now. There may have been a permanent light fixture attached to the ceiling joists or rafters somewhere, but the light source I remember was a small lamp with a little decorated glass shade that sat on the floor, and which I turned on by rotating a delicate key-like switch.

Pa had a little bottle of magic solution that could be put into the locomotive's smokestack, a couple of drops at a time, to make the engine really smoke! To an eight-year-old boy in 1975, that was pretty impressive.

Though he died when I was only eleven, I have many memories of my grandfather. I remember having a discussion with him up in that attic about the meanings of words--apparently an interest of mine even when I was very young--in which he explained to me that "a few" was just three or four, but "several" could get "way on up there, seventeen or eighteen." Even though I haven't heard his voice in thirty-seven years, I swear I can hear exactly what he sounded like when he told me this.

Attics have fascinated me for as long as I can remember, and this is why.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lenox with Pearl

I met Pearl at Lenox today, and I took some pictures while she was looking in the jewelry stores.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Drive South on 441

Today, the next to the last day of my 2017 Spring Break, I went on a little drive. I wanted to revisit the drive I used to do regularly from 2004 to 2006 when Anna and I lived in Madison and I went to graduate school in Milledgeville; I wanted to see how much had changed in the last decade, and if it was as pleasant a drive as I remembered.

It wasn't.

It wasn't bad, really, but I love the drive north on 441 so much more--up into the mountains, into North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tennessee--that the drive south through Madison and Eatonton into Milledgeville just seemed like a commute rather than a drive.

I did stop at two different Wal Marts, which says something about what a mundane traveler I can be, but I also stopped at Rock Eagle, and managed to have lunch at a good local barbecue place in Milledgeville. I also went into the new GCSU bookstore in Milledgeville, which has as much floor space devoted to college T-shirts as to books (except for the textbook area downstairs), and debated trying to remember where the English department is but decided not to bother.

The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus is said to have proclaimed that "no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man." Some old rivers, like Twain's Mississippi, are worth returning to because both they and we have grown in new and interesting ways. Some old rivers, however, like my former commute down 441, are perhaps best left in the fondly-remembered past.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sell's Mill

Today was the first day of my "Spring Break" (even though technically it's still winter), and, even though it was cold and overcast and generally Not Very Nice outside (with thanks to A. A. Milne for the capital letters), I wanted to go somewhere, so I drove almost thirty miles north (with a stop at the Target in Winder/Bethlehem) to Sell's Mill Park in Hoschton.

It's a pretty interesting place, but, not having a meal with me to eat at the picnic tables or kids with me to play on the playground or my wife with me to talk with about what an interesting place it was, there wasn't much for me to do but walk around for fifteen minutes, take some pictures, then go home. (I did, however, stop at the Winder library on the way home to finish up some contract editing.)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Domestic Haiku #1

Trash day's sweet relief--
for a few moments each week
we are refuse free.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Vines Gardens Haiku 8

Slumbering giant
wakes and slowly emerges
from the rain-soaked earth.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas Concert

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music, and I especially love going to Christmas concerts. For several years I went to the Gwinnett Choral Guild's Christmas concerts, but, sadly, the Gwinnett Choral Guild called it quits in 2015. However, last year I found a wonderful replacement: the Gwinnett Young Singers. I loved their Christmas concert last year, and tonight I went to their 2016 Christmas concert, and it, too, was wonderful.

In the past, when I was a reasonable person, it would have been enough to go to the concert and enjoy it, but now I have a smart phone, and therefore felt compelled to take pictures of the event. So here are some of them:

(To tell you the truth, I took pictures specifically to create this blog post. Years from now I know I will enjoy looking through the books I have printed of this blog and seeing the kinds of things I used to do, and I hope I will see entries in later years about bringing my daughters with me to these concerts.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Vines Gardens Haiku 7

Vines Gardens greenhouse
comes noisily crashing down--
Misty fall morning.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Vines Gardens Haiku 6

Beaver or vandal?
Either way, the tree is dead.
Sad chilly morning.