Saturday, February 17, 2018

Show #300

Hello Friends of the Garden!

Wow, show #300! It got here quicker than I thought! Many of you friends out there have said so yourself! I've gotten comments from friends that all sound very similar, "Really? No way! It seems like you just started this not long ago! Has it really been that long?" Yes, it's true! I'm twelve weeks away from being on at KFSR for six years! 

I'm eternally grateful to my very good friend Don Priest! In so many ways he's been the big brother I never had! His patience and faith have allowed me to participate in things that were once only dreams and now they have become realities! He may not see it that way but, to have that influence in helping someone experience the kind of joy I have had since knowing him is damned significant!

I'm also so very thankful to so many of you scattered all over the globe and right here in Fresno! The unique opportunity I have to interact with my friends through the radio show has been so fun! The complements and interest show by so many of you fills me with even greater enthusiasm to do my best to provide a distinctly different type of music not generally heard on commercial radio stations! My listeners are my friends and that's so nice!

I need to acknowledge my new friend Nate Butler, the new host of "The Local Show" that follows my show. Nate graciously allowed me to have his hour to help me celebrate my 300th show. Nate you are so cool! I'm looking forward to doing some creative thing with you!

I know I have been sporadic lately with my blog posting. This is a total aside and a simple expression of my thoughts. Life will throw curves at you and priorities take precedence over fun stuff! It is fun for me so expect to see me back at it when my schedule levels out!

Thanks again and peace and love to you all!


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Show #298

Hello Friends of the Garden!

Sorry for the irregular posting of my blog of late. At the end of the first month of 2018 I find myself as distracted as I’ve ever been. January also marks a milestone in my life that always felt too distant in the future to be real and that is my retirement! I have mixed feelings about it but I’m pretty new at the whole retirement thing.

The real issue that has dominated the previous month has been the health of my father in law, Larry. Larry has been in the hospital almost all of the month of January. It has been a hope-inspiring thing to witness the way the family has rallied around Larry. This is a clear testament to the strength of family. My retirement has allowed me to be the “weekday morning” team and collect as much information as I can for the family.

Being with Larry in the hospital has been a true challenge for me. I’m terrible about being patient but I’m getting better at it. I think the hardest part of the experience has been the memories of my own father that this has dredged up again. I’m finding that I have real struggles with loss. I don’t feel like I’m alone when it comes to this. I know many people share the same feelings as I do. The thing is that the feelings we share are not something that we do openly.

Now that I’m officially retired I have plenty of time to contemplate things. I’m still busy with stuff. I have been able to ease the tension of the everyday tasks that we had to force fit into our already even busier schedules. It is a new experience to have space in the day for myself to waste or be productive with. The transition of working to retirement is like many other milestones in the course of life, filled with uncertainty, possibilities and a refreshing rest stop on the road of life!

The road to my house at the coast isn’t very far. It takes about two hours and thirty minutes to drive there. I almost always drive straight through. Not far from where James Dean died there is a rest stop. There are always cars there but I never stop there. I’m always eagerly anticipating the deeply relaxing and satisfying effect of hearing the ocean at night from my deck.

As I drive past the rest stop in Cholame, I subconsciously shake my head and think what it would take to make me want to stop and give that time away? If I just kept going I’d be there sooner. Besides, I just now finally got around those stinking slow RV’s. If I pull over now then I’ll lose those precious seconds of progress I made. Impatience is just one of many other afflictions I am beset with. I truly am working on it.

Rationalizing why those cars are at the rest stop becomes a silly endeavor. For me, stopping is just never a thought that comes to mind. I never take the time to consider that I have no idea how long those people have been driving. They could be exhausted from more than driving. There could be things weighing on their minds that make it difficult to concentrate. I don’t think about how old they are, or if they have kids. I have no inkling of where on the “road of life” those resting cars are!

In my own way, (also the title of an awesome Marshall Tucker Band song) I have taken a rest at a rest stop of my own. Funny, what comes to mind is, “The pause that refreshes!” Simply having the option of taking my time is unusual and foreign. There are still demands of my time and attention but, I can sense a relaxed feeling setting in that I’ve never experienced before. It’s odd to think that being relaxed is not something that is instantly acquired. It takes some getting used to but it’s a good thing.

Getting back on the highway will be the real test! After taking a break at the rest stop the road looks different but much the same. Taking the “road less travelled” seems like an easy, euphemism. Maybe I’ve already been on the road less travelled and I’m just too dense to realize it! While the possibilities are not limitless there are still many. Do you suppose being a professional “Corn Hole” player is out of the realm of possibilities?

Peace and love to you all!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Show #295

Hello Friends of the Garden!

I like cooking! The roots go way back to my Grandma Mae. My parents used to palm me off on Grandma for a couple of weeks every summer until we moved and it became inconvenient. Grandma Mae lived in El Campo, Texas. El Campo is still a very small farming community with a population just under 12,000, in South central Texas.

Grandma was always nice to me. When my Grandfather passed away I was barely 10 years old. I hardly knew him. We lived far away from my grandparents when I was young. I only saw my Grandfather a couple of times that I could remember. Somewhere there is a picture of me sitting on his lap riding a tractor. My Grandfather owned a farm and raised cotton. After he passed it seemed like time just slipped by for a while.

I don’t recall or I’ve blocked it from my memory but, I can’t remember any signs of elation on my parents part when they dropped me off at Grandma’s. Fortunately, I also don’t recall Grandma being reluctant about having to entertain a busy body like me either! We watched TV in the evenings on an old black and white TV with rabbit ears and foil strategically placed to insure better reception.

The only time I ever remember Grandma Mae being upset or irritated was when we would watch wrestling or more accurately in Texas vernacular, “Rasslin”. It was like seeing her turn into the Incredible Hulk when she watched wrestling. She became unusually animated and could tell you all about the “bad guys” and who the “good guys” were. TV and cooking were the two biggest memories I have of Grandma Mae.

Grandma made the most amazing biscuits. She could make a lot of other things too but those biscuits really stood out! She saw that I ate more biscuits than I should but I could tell it made her happy to see me well fed! I never asked her about her biscuits; I simply ate them up with every kind of homemade jam and butter.

One morning she called me to the kitchen by my first and middle name. She never said anything other than that I was going to learn how to cook biscuits that day. She got out a bowl, dumped a bunch of flour in it, and dropped a big ole dollop of Crisco on top of it all. She handed me two butter knives and showed me how to cut the Crisco into the flour. When the shortening was incorporated into the flour it had a crumbled texture. She would pour a little buttermilk in to the bowl at a time and mix it until the consistency was just right.

After all the work was done it was a downhill run! Roll out the dough and cut it with a biscuit cutter. Bake it in the magic oven that made so many delicious things! I truly thought it was amazing that I could replicate the magnificent skill of my Grandma Mae! I remember that first batch of biscuits so clearly. That night we pounded out some round steaks to make Chicken Fried Steak with homemade mashed potatoes and green beans!

There were times I had wished I was spending time with my friends instead of Grandma during those summer days. I did learn a lot and some of those lessons still bubble to the surface from time to time. Eventually, I got a job as a short order cook, which led to being Sous Chef at a fancy restaurant in Dallas. Sometimes there would be a guy that was the head Chef at the Dallas Culinary Institute that would cook with me and the Chef at our restaurant. He told me I should attend the culinary institute because he thought I had real talent. Of course I didn’t listen!

I didn’t get to spend enough time with Grandma Mae. I was too dumb to know better but she taught me many things without me even knowing. She planted seeds of music that would lay long dormant until much, much later. She taught me about passion. She was never really concerned with keeping me entertained, she just did what she did every day. She never lectured me. She laughed and sometimes she shed a quiet little tear. She planted those seeds of self-confidence that didn’t mature until I was well past being mature and she was long gone!

Yes, I can cook and pretty darn good too! I can do a lot of things! I am special and Grandma Mae made me realize it without ever telling me! Although Grandma Mae never saw Star Wars she was way ahead of Yoda! She taught me that there is “no try, there is only do!” There is a piece of me that will always be linked to her and her kind, quiet, loving attitude. I wish I had paid more attention!

Peace and love to you all!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Show #293

Hello Friends of the Garden!

Well here we are at the eve of New Years Eve. 2017 is coming to an end and giving way to 2018. The last few years I’ve had a quiet New Years Eve at my tiny little coast house. I know I’ve missed some fun parties back in Fresno with my friends but I’ve also appreciated the quiet, calmness of Cambria. No one indiscriminately fires off guns in Cambria. There are no sobriety checkpoints. There are no fireworks. By all standards it probably seems really dull to most.

To me, New Years at the coast is a celebration of the soul. It’s a time to take account and prepare to close the books on the year that is ending. As I’ve grown older I’ve been keenly aware of the miles as they click by on the odometer of life. When I look back at the miles travelled this year it’s easy to recall the pain, struggle, loss and stress. It takes effort for me to dwell on the high points.

I still haven’t grown enough mentally to rectify the imbalance. Any clear thinking person would easily recognize the folly of amplifying the failures while neglecting all the effort that went into the successes. Why is it “human nature” for many of us to be so critical of ourselves? This time of year even has a ritual that reinforces that “human nature”, resolutions. Some people make resolutions while other swear against making them but all of us think about them.

The litanies of improvements needed for satisfaction are wide and varied and many times reintroduced each year. It’s amazing anyone survives the harsh realities of the self-assessment process. I’m too fat! I don’t read enough! I don’t get out enough! I need to spend more time around the house! I need to clean the garage. I need to be a better friend to my family and friends and be there for them. I need to get my ass in gear! Why is it that “human nature” makes this list so easy to generate?

The obvious answer is indulgence, I think (I guess I’m not sure). This is a time when we become aware what we’ve done with our time. I love imagining what it the antithesis of this “human nature” might be like. I’m going to give myself a break more often. I’m going to be more spontaneous. I’m taking more time for myself. I’m setting aside time specifically designed for doing nothing. I’m going to learn how to relax. I’m going to spend as much time discovering what makes me happy as I do trying to fix the myriad of maladies that vex me! It just sounds wrong doesn’t it?

The whole thing reminds me of the movie “Office Space”. The main character is stuck in a malaise across several aspects of his life, specifically work and love life. At one point the main character agrees to attend a hypnosis session with his girlfriend. Under hypnosis, the main character is prompted to not let anything bother him when demands are made of him and further that he should enjoy himself. Before he could be brought out of the trance the therapist dies from a heart attack leaving the main character stuck in his hypnotic suggestion. The change is truly refreshing to observe! Makes you want to say, “Damn! I wish I could do that!”

This coming year will bring plenty of hurdles and highlights, just every other year. There’ll be times when you’re going to need somebody to pick you up and times you’ll need to do it for someone else. How are you going to do that if you don’t make time for others? If you rigidly followed your resolutions you’ll find that you’ll spend more time recognizing that there are people thinner, richer, more successful, smarter, faster, kinder, and more talented; than you will recognizing all the progress you’ve made. All you can see is where you need to go, not where you’ve been.

You may not face these issues. You may be well adjusted. You may have a handle on mental toughness. You may have all the answers (if not I know people that do)! The “Original Liar’s Paradox” (you’ll have to Google that) best describes what inevitably follows; “I’m always right!” That statement is an indictment of imbalance! If I’m going to make any kind of resolution it would be to seek more balance, more harmony for myself, and anyone I connect with. Yin and Yang baby!

Peace and Love to you all! Let’s all work together to make this next year one that we will cherish!


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas 2017

Hello Friends of the Garden!

Well, I guess much like the way we had that Solar eclipse earlier this year, this Sunday's show has been pre-empted by a long standing station tradition of playing Christmas Music on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It just so happened that my show ended up coinciding with that Sunday. So, you guys get to take a break from me for a week! 

Let me wish all of you a very merry Christmas! Cherish the joys you have in your lives and let the burdens you carry rest for a little!
Peace and love to you all!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Show #292

Hello Friends of the Garden!

I was up early for a Saturday, 5:00 AM. It was still dark out; you could still see stars. None of that bothered me because I was on a mission! I’m cooking a brisket for a party tonight! Ever since I got my smoker I have had phenomenal results on anything I’ve cooked on it! To me, brisket is the pinnacle of barbequing! A good brisket is a wonderful thing!

I’ve written before on the religious-like following that this entire nation has with barbeque. Just like dialects, this nation provides a broad taste of variations on a theme! I have found myself subconsciously drawn in to this “Jedi” of meats counter culture. Funny, “Meat Church” comes to mind! Like I said it’s a religion to some! Central Texas is home to some heavy weight cooks and has all kinds of information for a novice.

As a result of my inquiry, I’m cooking this brisket “fat side” down. I had always been a proponent of otherwise, but I was swayed by competitive championship barbequers! I’ve also trimmed much more of the fat off than ever before. You can learn a lot online. I watched videos with focused attention as to prepare and cook this brisket the way champions do!

Reflecting on my attitude about cooking made me realize a passion I’ve acknowledged but never given it the credit it deserves! Cooking made me want to study! What!?! Cooking made me want to watch videos over and over so I didn’t miss an important part. Cooking had me comparing and contrasting opposing views on specific strategies to insure success. It made me want a better knife!

I think this is my fifth or sixth brisket I’ve cooked since I’ve gotten my smoker. Each one has been better than the last! The last brisket was over sixteen pounds and it didn’t make it past 10:00! It was totally consumed, all of it! That was a fun party! I truly believe that the reason my briskets turn out so well is because of the passion I have for it. I’m not denying the pride that also comes with pleasing family and friends for something you took such care to prepare!

Truly it ends up a “win, win” situation! I get to feel good about my attempt at a Texas tradition and a bunch of friends enjoy the benefit of my zeal! See, this is the real point! If more people approached things with passion and the intent of pleasing people (i.e. making their lives better), then things would have to be better for all of us! With all the political drama and harassment going on a question keeps echoing in my head. Is this the best we can do? Are these the best representatives we can find? Where's the real passion for good? We have plenty of passion for power!

I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat. Wouldn’t you want the best one you can find? It’s clear from all the news there’s plenty of swamp on both sides of the aisle! We should upgrade Congress. Imagine if all those people in Congress did their jobs the way I cook my brisket! Are these people really looking out for us? I don’t know!

Peace and love to you all!


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Show #291

Hello Friends of the Garden!

Whenever I write this I always start with no idea at all, none! It’s usually affected by what I woke up thinking about or heard on the radio or saw on the news. Sometimes it can be influenced by what may have happened to me in the course of the week. I often remind myself that the real joy is searching to understand myself better and not for any kind of recognition or praise. I’ve always had many more questions than answers, so there are a multitude of things that tumble around in my mind.

There are so many things happening in this world and the supply of topics for explorations are innumerable! I love talking with friends, acquaintances, and strangers. It is interesting to me to hear what people think about almost anything. Most of the time I’m shocked at the level of ambivalence that pervades our society. My guess is that people don’t have the time to understand things that do not directly affect them. They form their opinions from a very limited set of sources.

I get it! I really do! We live in a very busy world. We live in a time that has more distractions than ever before. It feels like it’s easy to see, hear or understand the “what” with all the different avenues that we have to keep us abreast of the latest news. I don’t feel like we spend a proportionate amount of time understanding the “why”! “What” is easy, the “why” is much more intricate and far more illusive and almost always based in personal bias; I include myself in this description of the acquisition of “why”.

I have had a lifelong connection with my quest for “why”. My personal observation of my need to know the “why” has led me to being a study of the human condition. I have had the experience of living in several places in this country. I have had the luxury of traveling outside our country and making long time friends in some of those places. My lifelong collection of information has not been relegated to one specific location. I try to be aware of what people say, what they do and the conviction in their voice and action. I like to aggregate these inputs to form an understanding for myself.

I often have discussions with myself, in my own mind, to explore the things I don’t understand. The result has been a somewhat irritating propensity to being a “Devil’s Advocate”. I try my hardest to set aside “why” I believe the things I do and put myself in the place of others that do not agree with me. My thought is that I will have a place to begin my quest for “why”. For me the result has typically been that the answers are a lot cloudier than people wish to admit. It is far easier to simply say I’m right, you’re wrong and why don’t you get it!

Education has tried to address the skill of advocacy through formal debate classes. Lawyers are probably the best example of unbiased allegiance through advocacy. Lawyers jealously represent their clients regardless of their own opinions and attitudes (or they’re supposed to). Unfortunately, advocacy as it appears to exist in our present culture lacks empathy or sympathy (see last week’s blog). Even worse, the prevalence of the unwillingness to seek “why” people say and do what they do falls equally on all sides!

The complexities of our modern world have made the ability to relate to those people with polar opposite attitudes even more difficult. We all know “they” are wrong; we just aren’t willing to see any credence to an opposing position. When we speak of being “color blind” in a culture we are often talking about race. I propose that we are “color blind” to colors other than black and white. Gray is not a color that is readily recognized or even acceptable! Black and white only discriminates between groups of thought and practice. Gray is the unacceptable color of true application and compromise.

Black and white is soothing! Right and wrong are comfortable ways to presume superiority. No more thought, introspection or research is necessary with black and white. All men are gropers. All Muslims are terrorists. All (insert your chosen race here) are lazy. All guns and gun owners are dangerous. All rich people want you to remain poor. All poor people want something for nothing. All homeless people have criminal intent. All (insert your chosen race or gender here) are terrible drivers. Really?

I’m learning to embrace and enjoy “gray”! There’s a lot more “gray” in our world than “black and white”. Acknowledging gray almost feels like getting “partial credit” for an incomplete answer! I have thought to myself many times, “Huh, so one half of this country really believes the other half are idiots that are completely ignorant?” It can’t be that simple! It’s clear that we aren’t spending enough time looking at each other’s “why”! It actually hurts my heart for me to embrace the idea that my political persuasion requires me to dismiss half of our country as self-serving, unintelligent and ill intentioned!

I have had some discussions (sometimes arguments) with people about political ideology. I love to get to the point in the discussion that I propose the question, “So, would our country be better off if all (Democrats or Republicans) didn’t exist at all?” The most stalwart of people stumble at the impossibility of promoting such an extreme position. The wheels come of the cart at that point! Japanese internment, McCarthyism, and slavery (sorry Roy!) are just the prominent examples of absolutism when we got it wrong!

I always end my radio show with a plea for harmony. Oddly enough, harmony does not come from everyone sounding the same! Real harmony comes from a blend of voices that create a rich, beautiful full sound that complement each other! If I were to create a “flag” to represent my radio show it would be a giant peace sign on top of radiant lines coming from the center to the edge……………..all in shades of GRAY! Get used to it everyone!

Peace and love to you all! Even if we disagree!