If you could see the farthest porch, it is about twelve houses away from the vantage point where I took this image. These bungalow style ranch houses were built in the late 1920s to early 1930s. Aside from the exact arrangement of each porch in-line with the next for an entire block, the sizes and shapes of these homes were all very similar; the main differences being exterior accents. Each house had a shared driveway between the next home to get to the single car detached garages.
Life was quite a bit simpler in those days and incomes were modest, but comparable. These houses were considered the newest thing in home building as urban began its spread to suburban…hardly by today’s standards. There have been many changes over the years in neighborhoods such as this one. Once considered up and coming, they have been demoted to the lower income class.
The one thing that hasn’t changed are the porches. Back in the days when air conditioning wasn’t invented, people took to the porches to relax in the evenings and weekends, and there was a great deal of waving, swing rocking and talking with one another. Today, these porches still become places of fellowship, even with interior air conditioning. Sometimes the closeness can be disturbing depending on the neighbors, but for the most part these ninety year old porches serve the same purpose.
They create space for human interaction. The separation so prevalent today with suburban houses built further apart, where the vehicles are garaged and the cars pull in and out with the push of a button, neighbors may not be seen for weeks!
Perhaps we need more porches closer together. Grab a cold glass of iced tea, rock on the swing with a friend or family member and relax. Summer is just around the corner.
This guy performs the kind act of pouring water from a bowl which gives life to this bird and other wildlife. He stops watering in the winter due to freezing, but he’s back at it when warmer weather returns.
Brawn, bowl and bird would have also been an appropriate title for this sculpture, except the word “water” would not have been included. Water is such a critical element to all that has life so I chose to include it.
Granite muscles and chiseled features delicately embrace the watering bowl that the creator had in mind when he or she sculpted this piece of art. I like the fact that it is not only an art piece placed in a flower garden, but has purpose beyond visual enjoyment. Water flowing from within this rock brings relief to soft creatures on the outside. There is no fear-only satisfaction.
I can easily see the correlation between God and this granite man, and people as the bird. We are welcomed into the garden. We are offered the satisfaction that our greatest needs will be met. And, we are told not to be fearful. It appears the bird understands this dynamic very well. I hope we all do, too.
Tuesday morning, 0730, western Kansas City, cold and overcast.
Stepped outside to leave for business. The eastern sky startled me. The western sky reassured me.
To see the sun begin to rise in the east and the moon begin to set in the west at the same time is fairly common, but rather special, too. One is so vibrant and the other so soft as it fades away due to the morning’s brilliance.
The cloud dynamic adds a dramatic element to the one, and a firm point of reference to the other…rather like some people do when we encounter them.
Had lunch with a friend of mine today. He is such an encouragement and always looks at each day as simply that…another day. If we screw up, we have another opportunity to do better (assuming we are given the chance). We both have struggled through serious depression about the same number of years and period in time, but he seems to have a firmer grip on what makes one tick and how to respond to the negative thoughts we all succumb to which affects our moods, doubts and self-images. I appreciate him so much.
Just look at the recent tragedies in Vegas and Texas. Talk about warped self-images. How sad for all concerned. In some way, all affected become victims. However, this post isn’t about those terrible incidents. It is more about beauty and awareness and life. It is about overcoming, too. It is meant to encourage instead of discourage. I see flags flying half-mast everywhere and know why, hence, the monologue about recent tragedies. Yet, the flags will fly at full-mast again. So should we after we falter from life’s harsh realities.
I know this statement may seem harsh and even naive to some, but such is not my intent. One never gets over tragedy…one must simply overcome it’s consequences which can be extremely difficult. I have personal experience with this reality. May these photos lift your souls as they did mine when I first witnessed these scenes early this morning.
East to West…emerging to fading…repeating cycle everyday…redemption waiting.
This is Adam, one sculpture of two with the other being Eve, of course. These granite sculptures are located in Loose Park, a 74 acre swatch of beautiful land in the heart of Kansas City. Part of the park was used as confederate canon placement during the Battle of Westport during the Civil War. Just west of this fountain and herb garden is the Rose Garden which has 1.4 acres of 125 varieties of roses-first planted in 1939. Jacob Loose was a successful business man and philanthropist. After his death his wife, Ella, donated the land for this property in honor of her husband.
Cheryl and I visited this park two weekends ago. Unfortunately, a bit too early for half the roses to be in bloom, but wonderful, nevertheless. As we strolled to the herb garden and sculptures, I noticed two sparrows taking turns at bathing and drinking from this hand-held bowl of water. I only had my cell phone or I would have zoomed in for a closeup. However, the sight of these birds utilizing a man-made water source in a very serene setting really blessed me so I took this photo. Enjoy !
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.
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.
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.
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!
New Year greetings from the frigid Midwest. Another arctic cold front has swept down upon our landscape and has caused temperatures to plummet. When we have periods of cold such as now, I am most grateful for a warm home and car and coats and gloves. Hot meals and coffee help, too, as do caring people who express warmth with a smile, a hug or a hand shake. Kind words spoken with sincerity certainly spice up a dreary day.
Personally, I have been in a funk for the past month due to a variety of reasons: long work days and related stress, lack of sunshine, and the gnawing feeling that I was meant for something more than what I am currently doing. I have noticed that one of the first things to suffer during these morose times is my creativity. Hence, I haven’t posted for a while. So, I really appreciate you visiting my site at this time.
I have a couple of short stories to share which reveal people full of gratitude. My hope is that by sharing other’s thankfulness, we will become more grateful for our blessings.
Recently, I was the recipient of someone’s gratitude whom I didn’t know, but would like to. The gratitude was not for me, but for something far better. Cheryl and I were at a local restaurant with three other couples. The server was a pleasant gal from Bogotá, Columbia, South America. I am always intrigued by accents and tried to guess her native country. I didn’t guess correctly, but the interaction led to a most startling and beneficial discussion, albeit brief since she was working.
As discussions often go, one question and response lead to another, and another. My companions were also very interested in what we learned in such a brief time. As our server, Selena*, spoke of her coming to America she shared how her father had been shot in the head by a drug cartel member. He survived, but lives in a walking semi-vegetative state. Her mother runs the small propane business once ran by her father. She makes ends meet for them. Due to the seriousness of the violence by the drug cartels in the area of her native city, Selena came to America to receive her secondary education. She ended up in Kansas City and began attending college. As she spoke to us of her recent trials, she showed no self-pity. In fact, her voice became stronger and more impassioned as she spoke of the great opportunity she was given in our country. Suddenly, Selena’s voice came to a crescendo as she stated, “God bless America!”. She then qualified her display of sincere gratitude by acknowledging that many say those words, but don’t really mean them. She wanted us to know that she most definitely meant them. And, she made a point of telling us that she didn’t want or expect entitlements, but was more than willing to earn her way through the new life she has discovered in our country and in our city.
She then continued to serve us in a very efficient and self-assured manner. Needless to say, we were touched by this lovely person who could have easily expressed anger, fear or a host of negative emotions, yet she proclaimed convictions that I want to carry with me daily such as courage, perseverance and thankfulness. I am grateful for Selena (*not her real name) as she has reminded me that gratitude should not be limited to those who seem to have it all. In her case, she does have all that is necessary to live abundantly. And, so do I. May we all be so fortunate.
My other story focus’ on a gentleman we met while on vacation in Mexico. Carlos is the general manager for the Marriott’s five or six restaurants at this facility. Carlos smiled a lot and made a point of looking for us each morning as we had our breakfast. He told us that he has worked for Marriott for twenty-plus years and has been able to put his kids through college because of his vocation. He loves his job and the company he works for. He loves life as is evidenced by his graciousness and willingness to assist us in any way while we visited. I am proud to have had our photo taken with this wonderful man.
I hope these simple stories help to illuminate your lives with a brighter perspective. These two gracious people have certainly done that for Cheryl and me. I am reminded that gratitude starts with a positive attitude. The ‘g’ is tacked onto the beginning of attitude to emphasize this dynamic. Selena exhibited a soul-deep joy that she couldn’t keep down. Her cup ran over and we felt her gratitude pour over us. Carlos’ enthusiasm and willingness to bless us was contagious. How wonderful it could be / would be if I lived life with the same zest as they do. Just think of how many people would be encouraged by my cheerful heart. The thought of such a thing brings a smile to my somewhat sullen face and a tear of joy to my eye. I am blessed and want to be a blessing to others. With the Lord’s help, this is what I hope to become.
Happy New Year Everyone !
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"The artist exists because the world is not perfect" - Andrei Tarkovsky
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