The power of love

Debbie came all the way from south Florida to visit me this weekend. What strength and courage that must have taken. She is as brave as she is beautiful and I am a lucky man to know her and to be in her heart.

Thirty three years had passed since we last saw each other in person. Thirty three years since we had even spoken until January of this year, 2011. We had both taken radically different paths through life’s journey that led us to the same spiritual and emotional place all these years later. It is such a crazy story that it is almost unbelievable.

We re-connected through Facebook and then immediately began texting and instant messaging online. It wasn’t long until we fired up the web cams and since then we’ve been face to face enjoying each other’s company for hours on end every single night, but a thousand miles away from each other. There was much to teach and learn about each other’s past and life’s experiences. There still is much for us to learn.

We were in love with each other when we were sixteen years old, but what do sixteen year olds really know about love? At 49 years old now, I have a new deep respect for the answer to that question.

I thought I had been in love before. I even got married in my early twenties. That didn’t work out. I had several long term relationships throughout my life. I thought they were love too. Each and every time I had my heart handed back to me, quartered and diced, and a few ounces shy of when I gave it away. I built walls after a while. I didn’t let anyone in. For the last decade I’ve lived alone, keeping any relationships at arms length. I had some soul searching to do and I did it. I know who I am now. Wisdom has taught me many lessons and I know what is important and what is not. I know what is shallow and what is deep. I’ve spent a lot of time here alone. I learned to like being alone and I never felt lonely. And then Debbie came back to me after all these years and everything changed in a flash.

Debbie arrived Friday morning and it was although time had stood still for all those years. The chemistry is amazing. The romance is strong. The passion is deep. The love that we felt for each other way back then never died and it wasn’t just laying dormant somewhere. It was growing, unseen and undetected. It seems to have grown exponentially over the years as if someone or some thing much greater than ourselves was nurturing and feeding it as if it were some kind of prized botanical treasure.

I have just spent three of the best days of my life with her. Every embrace felt like we were sculpted by the world’s greatest artist to fit perfectly with each other. We are like two pieces of a valuable rare puzzle that can’t and shouldn’t fit with anything or anyone anywhere else in the universe except for with each other. There is not a doubt in my mind that she was meant for me and that I was meant for her.

I have never felt this depth of love, this level of trust or this magnitude of caring before. I just spent three days of total, undiminished, unabridged happiness with her and never in my life have I felt so complete. The piece of me that was missing all of these years is no longer missing. She makes me feel whole.

Our visit is over. I drove her out to drop her off at her mother’s house in Pittsburgh today where she’ll spend the rest of her vacation. Every mile I drove home I felt just a little less complete and a lot more empty. I’ve lived alone for a very long time but I’ve never felt as alone as I do at this very moment. But while my house is empty and my soul is lonely, my heart is full of love for her and hers is full with me. I’ll drive out to see her next week before she goes back to Florida and we’ll embrace each other again with the strength and passion that it will take until we see each other again this summer.

We are one.

Home made beef jerky in the oven

I love beef jerky but it’s so expensive to buy, so I used my black belt in Google Fu to research how to make beef jerky. I came across many recipes and I combined a few and came up with a pretty good one. Here’s what I do.

The store where I shop sells thinly sliced top round steak. It usually comes with 2 slices in a pack, about 12 inches long, 5 inches wide and 1/4 of an inch thick. It usually weighs in between a pound or a pound and a half. I take that and cut it down into about 1 inch wide strips and if they are real long I cut them down to maybe 6 inches in length. Once the meat is cut it’s time to make the marinade. In a big ziplock bag add

1/4 cup liquid smoke (Hickory)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
15 drops of Tabasco sauce

mix it up real good and put the meat in the bag and squish and mix it all around. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours. I let the last batch marinate for 24. It’s up to you, but I’d go at least 12.

When your ready to finish it, take it out and put it into a colander to drain it. Put a sheet or two of tin foil on the bottom of your oven and put the oven rack in the top position as high as you can get it. Then take a tooth pick and poke one through the end of one of the beef strips and put it up through the bottom of the rack and turn it sideways so that it hangs. Hang them all like that.

Turn the oven to 180 degrees and let it go for anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours depending on the thickness of the meat and how you like it. Remember, it’s not about cooking the meat so much as it is drying it out.

That’s it. Let it cool, remove the tooth picks and enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day….from afar

I remember the first time I fell in love. I was about sixteen years old and so was she. High school and all the pressures of high school and growing from a child to an adult. What an awesome time in life. What a trying time in life. She was beautiful. She was sweet and funny, innocent and true. When I’d think of her my heart skipped a beat. I was under the spell. Bitten by the bug. She was all I could think about and all that mattered. We were sixteen. I can’t even remember what else was important back then. It wasn’t survival. Our parents cared for us back then. It was a simple life. We had no real responsibilities. There was no career to maintain, no mortgage to meet, no standard to set, and no family to raise. It was high school. My memory has faded over the years but I still remember how my heart warmed every time I thought about her and every time I knew that I’d get to see her. How we passed our little love notes back and forth and how we’d re-route ourselves so we could see each other between classes. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.

She was on the track team. I was just a farm boy from the sticks. To this day I’m not sure how our lives crossed, who introduced us or how we originally came to know each other. It’s all a big blur and so much has happened since then. She wanted to settle down I think, like most people and raise a family after graduation. I just wanted to get out of school and run wild, and that’s what we did.

I moved back to Harrisburg and lived pretty much footloose and free and she got married and raised two sons in south Florida. A lot has happened to us both over the years. We’ve both lived through some pretty tough lessons. We’re both better people for learning them.

Here it is 33 years later and the strangest thing happened about a month ago. Through the power of the internet and Facebook we’ve re-connected. She’s still in Florida and I’m still in central Pennsylvania. We’re both single now. We chat every night on the net and call on the phone on the weekends, and I’ve realized something very surprising.
My heart still fills with warmth when I think about her. I look forward to her company every night. The laws of attraction and the forces of nature are apparently much more powerful that I’d ever imagined. She is still as beautiful, sweet, funny, innocent and true as she was when we met way back then. She still feels something for me too. I know she does. She’s coming to PA in March to visit family and we’ve carved out a few days to re-meet in person. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait. I want to see her now. Today! I want to hug her so much right now on Valentine’s day but I can’t. We’re in positions where we can’t just up and travel 1000 miles at the drop of a hat. So I had to send someone in my place to do today’s hugging. I figured a really big bear would do the trick, and by the smile on her face, I think she liked it.

Neither one of us knows why this happened. Is this the master plan now that we’ve each done what we wanted to do earlier in our lives and now we’re supposed to be together again? Is this our destiny or is this some kind of other test, or hurtful life lesson like we’ve both endured so many times before? I’m not sure why this is happening but I am very glad that it is.

Happy Valentine’s Day Debbie. I wish I were the bear.

A hole in my heart, but it’s just a hole

I think it’s common knowledge that there is something terribly wrong with every human being. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect. We are all good at something and we are all equally bad at something else, and we all have a deep void somewhere within ourselves that we need to fill with something. I think it is part of what makes us human.

Some fat people fill it with food. Some skinny people fill it by puking up their food. Some athletes fill it with vitamins and exercise. Some second level athletes fill it with steroids. Alcoholics fill it with booze and a junkie fills it with a needle. It’s a vicious, gaping hole that needs to be filled. It is hungry and that hunger never goes away.

I wonder if it’s a hole that we’re born with or a hole that we develop over time. Sometimes life’s harsh lessons dig it deeper as we go and the hole consumes us until there is nothing left. Sometimes we learn about that hole and we try to fill it up, only to find out that we are digging another hole in ourselves to fill in the first hole, and then the second hole is deeper and more ravenous than the first.

I think that I’m nearing an age where I’ve figured out my void. I’m understanding why I’ve made this decision or that decision throughout different periods of my life. I think I know the hurt that I’m trying to cover and the methods I use to try to fill it up, and I can live with it.

As time goes on I’m learning to be compassionate to it. I’m actually learning to like it. It’s making me humble.

A good friend gone

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write this tonight. The world has lost a good man and I have lost a good friend. I met him in the middle of the Susquehanna River in the summer of 2006. We were all up partying at a place in between some islands that we call the swimming hole and Dale came cruising up in a flat bottom drinking cold Coronas. We were friends instantly. Dale was an intelligent guy with a permanent smile. He was definitely a positive. He looked at the good in things and tolerated, and overlooked the bad. He fit right in.

He was looking for a new place for summer camping so we offered up our campground information and introduced him to our campground owner. We saw Dale a few more times that summer and then the next year he had a spot in our campground and he and his wife Lynn became part of our family.

Dale was one of those people that would do anything in the world to help you out. A “give you the shirt off his back” kind of guy. He was an honest man that liked good music, UFC fighting, Harley riding, boating, camping and partying with all of us. Most of all, he treasured his friendships. We also treasured our friendship with Dale.

We will not forget Dale. He’ll live on through all of us, in our hearts and in our memories. We will raise our glasses and toast to him often and we will tell our stories on the river of the great times that we shared with him. My heart goes out to his loving wife Lynn and their family.

To Dale, we will reunite one day my friend. Godspeed and goodbye for now.

Enough is too much already!

rodblagThis is a post about the prosecution and persecution of Rod Blagojevich. When is enough enough? When is enough too much? The man did what every politician does and what every successful businessman does. He had something that was worth something and was holding on to it and shopping it out for a better offer. If that is corruption then we better build some high walls around Washington DC and string them with razor wire.

What really pisses me off is the amount of tax payer’s money the government is willing to spend on a man who’s career they already trashed and drove wildly into debt. The first trial already cost millions. Now they are talking re-trial, only because in their own minds they didn’t get it right the first time.

Blago isn’t a bad guy. He’s not a threat to anyone, in fact, he wants to be a positive force, not a negative one. It would serve no one any good to imprison him. This is crazy. Let the man do some good for Illinois and for the country.

Here are some statistics and a good idea.

Based on the January 2005 point-in-time counts(the most recent stats I could find), an estimated 17,133 people experience homelessness each night in Illinois.

* 70% were living in shelters and transitional housing, while 30% were unsheltered.
* 79% were single adults and 21% were persons living in families.
* Slightly less than half (46.6%), were from Chicago and Cook County. Outside of Chicago, the highest concentrations of homeless persons were in the Continuums of Rockford (6.8% of state’s homeless at given point in time), East St. Louis/St Clair County (6.7%), and Northwestern Illinois Continuum (4.7%).
* 28.5% were chronically homeless according to HUD’s definition.

People who are homeless in Illinois have a variety of characteristics. Of the total persons who are homeless at a given point in time, sheltered and unsheltered, in Illinois:

* 9.5% are veterans
* 24.5% are severely mentally ill
* 33.8% have chronic substance abuse issues
* 4.2% are living with HIV/AIDS
* 22.6% are victims of domestic violence
* 5.3% are unaccompanied youth under 18

Here’s the idea. Take that 20 million dollars that they want to spend on a Blago re-trial and put it in a fund for the homeless in Illinois under the current governor’s control. Sentence Rod to one year of community service for lying to the FBI, and let him use that 20 million, through the current governor to get down and dirty and help the homeless. Everyone in Illinois would benefit from this. No one will benefit from spending 20 million dollars to re-try Blago. If you ask me, I think that that would be a worse crime than anything Blago every even thought of doing.

Rod, I hope these BLEEPING mother BLEEPERS get out of your A** and let you go back to doing some good in the world.

I’m still alive

I apologize for not posting for so long. I’m still here and I’m still alive. Time is more valuable to me in the summer. I like to spend all of me weekends up at the river so during the week I just work and try to maintain the house and lawn and stuff like that. I’ll start to hammer more writing in this blog when fall rolls in. I’ll try to write more before then but I’m not making a commitment on that.

Not much is new except that I’ve uploaded my first youtube video. I hope you enjoy it.

The first vacation of the year

ontheriver1 I like to take my vacations around the summertime holidays. It usually gives an extra day or so without having to burn my PTO time and there are always parties going on up at camp.

All in all, this vacation was a good one. I had great weather and I had some good conditions to try out my new old sailboat. I had some light winds, some strong winds and some gusty winds. There were a few days with no wind and I got to break in my new outboard. There were a few snags though. There were two days where my leg was hurting so bad I couldn’t even put on my prosthesis, but even a bad day on vacation is better than a good day at work. side

So there she is sitting in the water on a beautiful sunny day with my first mate enjoying one of his water toys. She’s tight and dry with no leaks to speak of. I made this mast too and I use the same gaff sail that I did on my Compac 16 except I run the forsail with roller furling from the CP on this boat as well. I’ll post more details and pics on the boat and the sail rig soon, but I just wanted to get this post and a before and after picture up right now.

I wish I could vacation all year and get 4 weeks of work rather than work all year for 4 weeks of vacation. Isn’t that what the French do?

Sky swims with the geese

sky-geeseWe are still waiting for them to raise the dam up at camp. The water is too low for boating right now but that doesn’t stop Sky from pestering me to take him swimming. I took him for a ride in the golf cart up to the end if the island. There’s usually no one around there and we can just hang out and play without the distractions of kids and fisherman.

So I grab one of his water toys and send it out as far as I can and he of course happily swims out, retrieves it and waits impatiently for me to throw it again. After the second throw something strange happened. There were two geese about 75 yards away when we got there, but after the first two throws, they flew up and landed right in the water about 20 feet from where I was throwing his toy. I threw it again. He swam out and got it and brought it back. The geese just stayed right there and paddled against the current, neither advancing closer nor drifting farther away. They were just hanging out and watching this new sport and honking to each other as it went on. They were curious and obviously entertained at this marvel. We were there for about an hour. Me throwing the toy and Sky swimming out and bringing it back. It must have been like a sporting event to them. It was pretty cool for me too, to watch them cheer Sky on like that. They would bustle their wings and tails from time to time and honk a little louder.

When we were done I called sky over to me and got him back in the cart. As I pushed the pedal and began to leave, the geese took off and flew back down stream to the same place they were when we started. It was a strange event, but enjoyable for Sky, myself, and apparently the geese too.

I had a dream

mvc-001fI had a dream last night. It was only about 15 seconds. It was like a photograph, but with feelings. It was of a friend of mine, a past girlfriend.

It was early morning. We were both young. We were rich and in love. We were in a mansion overlooking the Caribbean. There were marble floors and stone arch passways opening up to a caramelized sky of red, orange and purple with a bright yellow sun rising up over the sea. We were having freshly squeezed orange juice with mangoes and champagne. She was wearing baby blue silk pajamas with brightly colored peacocks embroidered all over. She wasn’t wearing any make-up. She doesn’t need any. I have never seen her so beautiful. She was vibrant, happy and full of life and so was I.

And that was it. The dream was over.