Smoking Tails

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These birds were performing aerial feats above our heads. They were certainly fun to watch as they lit up the blue sky on a warm summer day at a local air show. Sometimes they were in precise formation….

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And, at other times they drifted apart in helter-skelter fashion……

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But they always seem to come back together, kind of like people’s lives after a petty disagreement. Once they got back on course, they moved as one. At least that is the plan.

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Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

In a world that seems to have gone mad, much like millions thought during the world wars, it is often difficult to be happy. I mean really happy for an extended period of time; like for an entire summer. As I thought about all of the fighting, the political posturing, the violence, the poor and the refugees, the over-worked, ill and depressed, I wondered how many folk are truly happy. Without answering my own question, I decided to share a bit of nostalgia which resonated with me. For a moment, set aside all that hinders and relax as I share the following. Idyllic? Of course it is. Anyway, try to enjoy the moment.

1963 Dodge Dart

I bought this advertisement about a year ago at a garage sale for fifty cents. I thought it represented a snapshot of Americana during a more blissful-although imperfect-time. As you will note, this ad was meant to appeal to the white, middle class segment of the population at the time…1963 to be exact. The sixties was a decade of immense change in America. The younger generation wanted to separate themselves from their parent’s generation-and they did in many subtle, and sublime ways. Inequality among color and gender was brought to the forefront on a daily basis. Without boring you with the facts, I simply want to share a happy moment. The following lyrics were sung quite successfully by Nate King Cole, a black entertainer with a most beautiful voice. I urge you to YouTube his rendition of this song. BTW, he recorded it in 1963-the same year as this car ad!

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; those days of soda and pretzels and beer. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer.

Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies; then lock the house up, now you’re set. And, on the beech you’ll see the girls in their bikinis; as cute as ever but they never get ’em wet.

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; those days of soda and pretzels and beer. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; dust off the sun and the moon and sing a song of cheer.

Don’t hafta tell a girl and fella about a drive-in; or some romantic moon it seems. Right from the moment that those lovers start arrivin’; you’ll see more kissin’ in the cars than on the screen.

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; those days of soda and pretzels and beer. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer; you’ll wish that summer could always be here.

You’ll wish that summer could always be here; you’ll wish that summer could always be here.

 

 

A Walk Around a Lake

Saturday, we had a break from the extreme hot weather which has blanketed the Midwest for quite some time. So, after performing some yard work, I hopped on my scooter to a nearby small lake which has a walking trail full circle of the lake. It was midday and sunny so I didn’t think I would see anything worth taking a photograph of. However, I grabbed my Canon with little expectation other than to enjoy the scenery.

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Cattails are always a pleasant plant to come across, especially before they cotton out. The contrasting browns and greens are enjoyable to observe.

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Much to our mutual surprise, this kit and I saw each other at the same moment. I was fortunate to have my camera ready and took this shot before this little beaver submerged into a wetland area. Beavers are amazing builders and fun to watch.

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In spite of the midday sunshine, this lone drake was happily bobbing atop the water. Ducks are also fun to watch as they often turn upside down looking for food with only their tail feathers showing!

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Toss in a patch or two of yellow flowers and I concluded a well-enjoyed walk around the lake with expectations exceeded.

 

 

 

 

Overcoming

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To overcome any obstacle requires courage. We may not even be aware that this inner strength exists. Whether on the battlefield of war, fighting cancer, dealing with abuse or a host of other serious issues, at some point in our lives we will have an opportunity to overcome or be overcome. This is not an indictment of those who are overcome by something. None of us are Superman. It is simply a fact of life. Sometimes we are victors, and sometimes we are not. No judgement here. I am personally acquainted with both aspects of overcoming, yet I am not without hope.

 

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These wonderful sculptures are located within a fountain called the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain at a prominent point of the Country Club Plaza, a Kansas City landmark. They are spectacular. The artist who designed these is Henri-Leon Gerard, a Frenchman who was commissioned by a wealthy family in New York in 1910. Some years later the estate fell into disarray and the four bronze horses were sold. The Nichols’ family located these magnificent sculptures and had them shipped to Kansas City in 1957. There are four smaller fish-like sculptures which were added to the fountain which was officially dedicated in 1960, in honor of J.C., the visionary developer.

 

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To have such foresight as J.C. Nichols, who developed The Plaza in a Seville Spain motif in the 1920s, and the talent of Gerard simply astounds me. Kansas City is nicknamed The City of Fountains, and there are (48) city owned and maintained fountains within her city limits. This fountain (the most visited of all), and particularly these horses in full battle positions are a treasure. Because they reveal such intense conflict, the men and equines become one against their foes. These memorial sculptures tell a story far deeper than when casually viewed for the first time.

 

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No matter how determined one may be, to vanquish an oppressor takes more than courage and will…it takes help. Where does your help come from? For many, it comes from family and friends. For some, it comes from community. And for others, it comes from a force not easily identified, yet real to those who claim it. Depending on the circumstances, I have called upon all three of these helpers. Yet, there is always one unseen companion who stands by my side no matter what the obstacle. He has a name-Jesus-and through his spirit I am reminded that I am never alone in facing that which seeks to conquer me. I hope you have such a helper. And, I hope you visit this fountain and Kansas City some day!

 

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River Rocks

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There is something soothing about a clear mountain stream flowing steadily to its destination. Not a roaring river, or rapids, nor a trickle, but a swift movement of water which glides gently over the rock base with hardly a ripple…like liquid glass.

I love to stare at these photographs for the sheer simplicity and sublime natural beauty. The rock base with its myriad of colors and shapes, and the movement of water creating subtle illusionary effects is almost enchanting. Of course, I am biased because I vividly recall taking the photographs of the Merced River as it carves it way through the Yosemite Valley. Not far from this peaceful scene are several powerful waterfalls which reveal the force of water which cuts away rock and earth like a hammer and chisel.

 

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Water is fascinating. When it flows it can be refreshingly relaxing or extremely destructive. It can be harnessed to create electricity, and manipulated to rise and fall to accommodate changes in elevations as with canal locks. Moving water can be lovely to behold as the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas attests to with it shooting water shows, and pleasant to be near when relaxing by a sculptured fountain. And moving water can be just plain fun as can be seen on the faces of children running through a sprinkler, descending down a water slide or bobbing up and down on breaking ocean waves near a beach.

 

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What would we do without water?  Hint; absolutely nothing!

 

 

Friends

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What constitutes being a friend? If it means covering each other’s back then these guys are friends. If it means spending lots of time together then these guys are friends. If it means liking and doing the same stuff together then these guys are friends. If it means having disagreements, but loving one another anyway, then, most likely, these guys are friends. And, if it means sacrificing oneself on behalf of the other then these guys would probably do that which makes them very good friends.

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These stallions appear to be best friends, if I can say that about horses. They rest together, graze together, stand together and trot together. These two are never apart regardless of the season. I count myself fortunate to observe them regularly. Occasionally, I’ll stop.

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When they run to greet me, if for no other reason than out of curiosity, a smile forms on my face as I witness their exuberance.

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They are a friendly and handsome pair, and always appear to be in fine shape.

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As I witness the brotherhood that exists between these two equines, I stop for a moment and consider my friends, past and present. I also consider what kind of a friend I am and have been. To be sure, I have disappointed more than a few souls. And, I have been disappointed and hurt as a result of others who I considered close friends. There is a proverb which states, “One who has many unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. I know that friend, and want to be like Him.

 

We’re All Ears !

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Have you heard, or perhaps ever stated, “I’m all ears” or in this case, “We’re all ears”? Of course the quip is really a response to someone telling him or her that you are waiting expectantly to hear what he or she has to say. Quite often gossip is associated with this verbal interchange. I doubt my two bovine buddies are interested in what I have to say, although they did move closer to me as I approached them. Curiosity, I suppose, although I like to think of myself as being approachable. Most of us do!

The sun was setting behind these calves as they became living silhouettes. I couldn’t resist taking the shot, and wondering what they thought of me as I studied their faces.

What do animals really think when they look at humans in a neutral environment? For dog and cat lovers, staring at each other is as common as interacting with children or reading a good mystery. Some folk say animals don’t think…or feel emotion, but I beg to differ. They take in a lot more than we imagine, as scientific studies have shown. And, even if there were no scientific proof, real life experiences where man and animal respond to one another like human to human is undeniable in many instances. So, to my silhouetted friends, I simply say, “Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you”. I hope you got more out of our time together than I did.