Asphalt Siding

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This morning I lingered long enough waiting for a train to take the above picture with my phone. The house is the lone survivor of several demolitions on that block, and the number of homes with asphalt siding in Lima is dwindling.

I lived in a home with asphalt siding for several years while I was growing up. Spotting a similar house this morning somehow reminded me of something my mom once told me about ghosts. She said what may seem to be ghosts may actually be impressions left by people who are living. I myself believe that God allows us to see anything he feels we need to know, and it is possible that in his wisdom he may show us images of the living or the dead.

If our old house were haunted by our living selves, someone would see us as we were back in the mid-80’s. My hair would be bleached from a summer in the city pool, and the home perm I’d gotten on top of it would have accidentally given me Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” hairdo. Likewise, my sister would be studying the fallout from her home perm and wondering how soon she could rid herself of Barbara Streisand’s look from A Star is Born. My brother would be watching He-Man while my mom wondered how we were going to survive the rubber plant strike. My dad would be standing at the fridge, eating peanut butter straight from the jar. His cuticles and eyelashes would still be stained black from his work in that factory. My mom would be wearing the navy blue dotted shirt she wore most days for a whole year.

If I had the chance to see an echo of that scene, I’d know all over again that those were the days that made me. I’m happy with a working class job. No matter how many shirts I own, I usually end up rotating just a few of them until they wear out. I’m grateful that my growing up taught me that less can be more.

Walk in the Park, First Hot Weekend of Spring

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Over the past weekend, my daughter and I stopped at a graduation party for one of her classmates. The event was a bittersweet reminder that we will be celebrating that same milestone in a year. If you, dear reader, happen to be the parent of a child much younger than mine, cherish all the moments of childhood, no matter how maddening they may prove to be. Pay no heed to the fact that moments can be held as about as well as water in bare hands.

The party was held at a local park I hadn’t visited before. The day was unexpectedly hot, but we braved the heat for a quick stroll along the new walking trails. In all three pictures, she is ahead of me. As she travels into a country that seems undiscovered to her, she walks in a land I remember from the days of my early adulthood. While we walked in a place that looked new to us, I know I was once in a place so similar to the one she inhabits.

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Garden, May 18

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Since parts of our yard have already flooded twice this season, I’m thinking this is a year to let most of the garden lie fallow. So far I have five annual plantings plus our perennials, and that is likely all we’ll have this year unless I spot a few more garden center plants that are too enticing to avoid taking home.

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May 5

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Both the crabapple and redbud trees are in bloom, but good light for capturing their beauty has been elusive. We had nearly six inches of rain in April, and May could prove to be just as soggy.

By the way, while I was away from this blog, we had a day-long flood in our neighborhood:

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That was the second time our street has been flooded in the past three years. When the waters rise, I am grateful that we have neither a basement nor a crawl space and that we live on top of a hill.

The renewal of my faith that began back in December continues to deepen. Looking back, I feel there was a long prelude to this personal “revival.” The more I learned to cope with chronic pain, the more I felt the urgency of trying to purge myself of ill-will, grudges and envy. I knew that my negative feelings increased my stress, poisoned my relationships and aggravated my pain.

I suppose I was unwittingly preparing for an event I didn’t see coming, or I was too busy worrying about the past, present and future simultaneously to notice that deep changes were afoot. I was no stranger to that ineffable feeling of the Holy Spirit making his presence known within me, but I did not know how to sustain that radical serenity. The first time it happened was about 25 years ago, at a time when I felt lost yet stuck in place, when I was a college dropout doing time in retail purgatory. I had a dream so filled with bliss that I cried upon awakening because the feeling ended when the dream stopped. In the intervening years, that deep peace would return for a few minutes at a time while I was awake, yet I still didn’t know how to call upon that feeling.

Back in December when I first went to the Methodist church down the street, I was overwhelmed with that abiding feeling of peace, bliss and serenity. As soon as I moved into this neighborhood five years ago, I knew I should visit that church. I put off doing so for a very long time, with mental questions/excuses like: Why would a lapsed Catholic join a Methodist church? Do they dress up in the sort of clothes I can’t stand wearing? Will I look like one of the great unwashed to them? Is this an enclave of Trumpists?

Now that I’ve joined that church, I know that the concerns that stalled my first visit to the church were unwarranted. I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about politics before or after Sunday service. The congregation is fairly small and the majority are elderly. Some are accustomed to dressing up for church, others dress for comfort.

I feel a strong presence of the Holy Spirit during Sunday worship service. The sermons are thought provoking and encourage study of Scripture. I so wish I had devoted time to independent study of the Bible before I reached the ripe age of 46, for I can feel the Spirit’s presence when I take time to read the Word, too. Instead of regret, I feel comfort in understanding that God knows each of us well enough to foresee the choices we will make, and he knew that my spiritual adolescence would last for decades.

I’m eager to dig into the Prophets more, though I will admit that some of their metaphors are hard to digest. Speaking of digestion, I like the references to how some of the prophets ate scrolls containing some of God’s revelations to them (e.g. Ezekiel 3:3 and Revelation 10:10). The imagery is so elemental it’s like something out of a vision that’s endured for as long as God has willed people to exist.

I so adore God’s words to Jeremiah when he worries that he won’t know what to say, “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9 KJV).

I pray that I will know what to say when I write or speak about my faith. May God touch my lips and give me the words.

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Spring Photo Walk, April 22

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I had the day off from work. I tried to resist the urge to document the unfolding of the season in favor of catching up on housework, but I failed, as those who know me best could have predicted.

As I cropped these pictures at home, I decided that some Air Supply songs would be the ideal soundtrack for that task. The name “Russell Hitchcock” floated to my mind, and I considered that it may possible that I have problems retaining new information because of the trivial old bits that have clogged my memory. Wherever Russell Hitchcock is these days, I wish him well and hope he can still hit the high notes in his songs and fit into those Sergio Valente jeans.

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