36,000 Feet

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Many of you have witnessed this dynamic  view from a commercial jet. This one was flying at 525 mph at an altitude of 36,00 feet. We must have had a decent tailwind because we arrived almost twenty minutes early. Typically, most commercial jets fly around 400 to 450 mph to preserve fuel.

Flying from the east coast to Kansas City, the cloud covering began to thicken as we got closer to our destination. I like clouds and find them fascinating as long as I am above them or below them…not so much when I am in the midst of them. Flying in a bus with wings is equally as fascinating. After the Wright Brothers, Bleriot and Curtis changed the concept of “lighter than air travel”, literally the sky became the limit. Needless to say, our lives have been changed forever.

Instead of taking a steam ship across an ocean, a stage coach across the plains or walking from one village to another, man’s expectations and ingenuity created newer and faster and more comfortable means of travel. Considering how we traverse the world (much less our city or rural countryside) we have leaped ahead a century into impatient people who can’t stand to wait a moment longer to board a plane , a train, a rental car or taxi. A far cry from not that long ago. Waiting was simply a part of life then and still is in many parts of our world.

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Perhaps the most daunting challenge concerning flying in this century is going through security and obtaining our boarding pass (if not done ahead of time). It is not just the process, but also there are a certain amount of travelers who are in hyper-mode and can be quite rude at times. Ever missed a flight? I have. Was it enjoyable? No. Did I survive? Yes. Will I travel by jet again? Yes. Although I haven’t traveled on Virgin Airlines to-date, I believe Richard Branson had it right when he said that air travel should be less stressful and more enjoyable. He had the money to change that and he created a new and different commercial airline company. Kudos to him for doing so.

On my flight back from Philadelphia I witnessed numerous young families with babies and toddlers. They were pushing strollers, carrying bags, pulling bags, walking with backpacks and children in arms. One would expect these parents would be the most rude and less understanding about all of the rules and waiting. Instead, I found them to be the most patient and pleasant of all the travelers I encountered. So, why are those who have the most issues to deal with the most patient and pleasant. Perhaps dealing with issues on a regular basis, and knowing what to expect prepared them for the task ahead with the end result being worth it. Whether visiting family and /or friends or vacationing, they took all of the hassles in stride. It’s kind of like our ancestors did before technology “simplified” our lives. I appreciated the 36,000 feet ride back home more than ever…even with babies crying.

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!

 

 

It Seems Like Only Yesterday…

misc 024 “It seems like only yesterday….”, so goes the old, but oh-so-true adage about our concept of time amid obvious changes that we cannot fully grasp occurring in a particular span of time. Case in point is my grandson, Elliot Michael. It was only one year ago that the little guy was born to my daughter and son-in-law. That was such a joyous occasion (If interested, I revealed that experience in a year-old post called, A Son is Born). Today, I would like to share some thoughts and feelings which are a culmination of observations and experiences I developed over the course of my life, and in particular this past year.

I was twenty-four years old when our son was born. Jared came a bit early, but we were thrilled, and totally unprepared for what the next two decades would bring to our lives. When Ramie was born two years later, we had a better understanding of what to expect and how to respond, but we were still in ‘learning mode’. As a parent, I don’t think we really ever graduate from Raising Children; we simply advance from course 101 to 203 or 404. I am still learning about parenting, and the funny thing is, I have been granted the title of grandparent without graduating from the prerequisite. Now that I have been thrust into another classroom about something I am ill-prepared for, ie. grandparenting, I will try to do my best to assist Elliot’s parents in whatever way they may need me. Cheryl is already on top of this. I am confident Elliot will receive every good thing necessary to live a fulfilling life (even in spite of me!).IMG_2001

From total helplessness to walking (still a bit unsteady), from staring blankly at objects to observing people intently, from barely following movement to never being still, and from simply mimicking what others do to cognitively acting out as a result of astute reasoning and trial-and-error is an amazing transformation in such a short period of time! It is almost inconceivable that each one of us started out this way. Truly, watching a child grow is likened to one of those time-lapse videos of a plant which breaks forth from the earth, grows the stem with leaves unfurling, and a bloom forms which opens to a flower. Or, witnessing this same dynamic with a simple caterpillar spinning a cocoon and eventually emerging as a beautiful butterfly. “Wow!” is about all I can say. The development of a child in year one is dramatic. And, there is so much more change to occur. Already, Elliot is babbling as if he were carrying on a conversation with us. I so much want to know what he is thinking. That would be fun!                                                                                                                 From the very first caress and the fragrance of a newborn’s breath, I knew my life would never be the same. That was true with my children, and is also true of my grandchild. Despite the struggles involved with an infant–little rest, a variety of illnesses, disposition issues, bumps and bruises–the payoff came when I held that little one in my arms and gave nourishment through a bottle, all the while marveling at the wonder which I embraced. The silence of such moments inevitably ended, but the spell that was cast cannot be, no, will never be broken. Elliot is now a toddler, and then there will be other stages of life which will zoom by too quickly. I know this, and so do you. So, enjoy them all…even the tough ones.

When I see my grandson, I see Jared and I see Ramie. When I witness Cheryl caring for Elliot, I see her doing the same for our children. As I have watched Matt play with Elliot, I recall doing the same with our children. And, when I watch my daughter interacting with her son I have to remind myself that this mother was once my child. And then my thoughts turn to Elliot’s future. What will he be most interested in?  Will he be athletic like his dad and mom? Will he have a sense of humor like most of his family (both sides)? Will he read a lot and enjoy nature, and like animals?  I was going to ask if he would be shy, but I believe I know the answer to that question! Too much to consider so I will attempt to focus on the here and now…the rest will sort itself out.IMG_2025

I have been truly blessed in so many ways. I feel like Lou Gehrig, the NY Yankee who contracted ALS-later to be known by his name-when he gleefully stated at his farewell address to the fans of New York, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. To him, being a ball player for a successful major league baseball team for 17 years while having adoring fans was paramount to a life of ultimate fulfillment (in spite of his disease). Humbly, I feel the same about being a parent and grandparent. I am reminded that one day Elliot will become a man, yet he will always be my grandson.   Happy Birthday !Elliot & Carson 10-3-14