Friday, September 23, 2005

Morning Glory

The alarm on my phone went off at 5am like an urgent hyperventilating Lilliputian dancing a jig of impatience four feet from the bed. After successfully ignoring it for a good 45 minutes, Katrina convinced me to get up and drive with her to Knoxville so we could save some gas. Thus came the beginning of what started out as a really crappy morning. The normal beauty of the pre-dawn drive never even crossed my mind today - I didn't even roll down the window. Several arguments and an apology later, we arrived at Brickey Elementary and she got out to go try and keep the system from turning a class of first-graders into little government I/O machines. She'll do well, they're kids and they're resilient.

I left to the tunes of Over the Rhine to go coax a little decency out of myself through prayer and calm. So I headed down Hill Rd to escape the subdivisions. They remind me of well-dressed cubicles. The people who live in them spend their whole lives in cubicles. The parents sleep there in a room that is spacious and not crowded with furniture. The kids try to dress up the room to make it a little more lively, but in the end that's a difficult thing in a drywall cubicle. They get up with much chagrin and retreat from the one cubicle to what might be redemption at school, only to find a little aluminum and sandstone cubicle waiting there for them, begging to have copious amounts of sometimes worthless questions answered upon it with no explanation why. The parents dress as if for an important day and go to a small gray and more customary cubicle to perform the unexciting circus trick of getting too much accomplished for nothing but a big check to satisfy your logical and creative reasoning (and to pay for the other cubicle). So, the wonderful thing about Hill Rd. is that you can leave all that behind. It winds past the last few subdivisions that can really be considered suburbs of Knoxville and begins a decent into the wide floodplain valley of Bull Run Creek. I pulled off the road just before the bridge over the creek and took a bit of a nap while the music played lazily. I awoke a bit later to find two men and a dog looking at me wondering if they ought to wake me up (since it's not often you find a person looking freshly dead in a car on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere). They hid their disconcertedness under good composure, I reassured them, and they went on their walk. I got out to walk down to the creek and sat their in the beauty of the sun shooting slow arms through foggy gaps in the trees to land on the creek bed under a couple feet of jade water. Curt, unkempt wildflowers had taken over the land behind me and around the little pebbly beach. I shuffled slowly looking for a place to sit and wondering what I would do or say if someone showed up with a shotgun and a claim of ownership. But no one did. I came upon the skull of a very young calf lying on the loamy creek bank. No other bones, just the skull. It was half-covered in mud and I placed it gently in the cradling waters of the murmuring creek, watching it as it rolled along the bottom in a strange sort of dance that seemed to carry the morning's troubles away with it and out of sight. I sat down in the final symphony of the previous night's crickets and watched as a red-headed woodpecker clicked thoughtfully at a few places in the top of a tall dead tree, polished by the sun and wind. Sycamores soared over the water, with the bark peeling from their tops to reveal white underbark beneath. I love when they do that - like wise old folks with white hair and quiet old stories to tell. I sat and listened to the language of the creek for a while, remembering the One whose voice was like the sound of rushing waters. I apologized for the way I acted earlier. I breathed in the sweet air of flowers whose names I didn't know. And I wrote...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Spitting's a Dirty Habit


It's not often that I remember to keep my mouth shut, so I'll take the opportunity to write it down. Some folks have really gotten all peeved up about alcohol and the Christian response to it. The argument ensues with politics driving it and people shouting. Others shake their heads and some take their toys and leave, dropping truth-turned-wrong-side-out in their wake. I started to get involved, and remembered that "even a fool is thought wise if he keeps quiet." So, at least this time, I didn't get involved in "useless arguments about genealogies" and the like. Don't be too congratulatory. There will be plenty of short-sightedness on my part to outweigh any whiffs of wisdom you may come across.

Oh, and by the way...

...I know a worse one.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Don't

On my list of do-s and don't-s, I'd like to add a recently discovered don't:

DON'T buy and/or attempt to use the little printer ink cartridge refill kits. I'm talking about the ones that have the little squeeze bottles with dull needles on them that you can inject directly into your printer cartridges. First of all, the computer hardware company has effectively prevented you from doing so by making it impossible to gain entry into the printer cartridge without destroying it. ie; they want you to pay the ungodly amount of money that it costs to buy a new cartridge every time you run out of ink. Is it a conspiracy of sorts? Yes. Is it legal? Unfortunately. Reason number two (and the inspiration for this post): Those little squeeze bottles of ink that you inject into your empty cartridges? Yeah, that's real ink in a crappy bottle with a crappy dispenser system. So, in my cheap-skate efforts to thwart the dastardly plans of Hewlett Packard, I have now died my hands a nice calico of magenta and cerulean. That's hot pink and blue to the Christopher Lowell-challenged reader. I look like I got in a fight with a crayola marker box and lost. I'm nearly willing to get out a belt-sander and go to work to remove this evidence of either my stupidity or my clumsiness (both of which are evident enough on their own). But, yeah, the moral of the story is, They've got you on this one. Go ahead and buy the new cartridges.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Will Play for Relief

Last night ranked pretty high as one of the coolest concerts that I've played. I got to share the mic with Andy, Greg Adkins, Griffin Cavender, (Bob and Heather) Gray, and of course, Karen Reynolds. I came expecting the show to be something sort of small. I love Karen and her program Writer's Block, but there was a Jack Johnson concert that night, so I didn't expect the crowd of people to show that did. And, as if the people weren't enough, I found out when I got there that the whole thing had been turned into a benefit show for the hurricane victims. I felt truly blessed to be a part of something like that. My inborn love of country music was also revived. After hearing Gray play and listening to a bit of Julie Lee's cd in Greg's car, I think the old grunge hindrances are finally gone. Go away Nirvana-is-all-I-ever-wanted-to-be thoughts that still dripped around in my head from middle school. I think that the people who actually like good music and think that country sucks have simply been putting too much time in on the corporate radio. My horizons were certainly re-widened last night.

I also spent some good time talking with Greg. We spoke about Caedmon's Call and music business and several other things. But the thing that stuck with me was the fact that the folks in Caedmon's still have day jobs. Cliff's a pastor, Osenga and Josh produce and so forth. Anyways, the upcoming project is not what they're really interested in doing right now at all. Essential's making them do it because Share the Well didn't sell very many copies. And that show is a financial booger to put on (yes, quote me. I said booger in a public forum.) So please, go out and buy many copies of Share the Well very soon. Or at least buy one. Tell your friends. Have them buy some copies. And while you're at it, buy Andrew Peterson's latest cd The Far Country. This album brings me to remembrance of something that I always feel whenever I stare across a wide open vista or see the love in my wife's eyes or my friend's smile. It's something I remember when I taste the beauty and the depth of the life of the earth in wine or coffee, or even the clean coldness of water. That is, I am a foreigner in this land. Andy P calls on the gleam-in-the-eye style of CS Lewis and Tolkein and puts all sorts of little nuances in to suggest the hidden Life lying just behind the curtain of this farcicle world - everything from the rolling piano licks of Ben Shive and the other-worldly driving of Osenga's electric to the fading out of the whole project to a sort of heartbeat (that has quite a different tone than that of Dark Side of the Moon, mind you). This is one I can't help but dance to, so I shut the doors and crank the volume and stomp on the floor while God laughs and I am thankful that I'm on the bottom floor. Buy this album. Save your gas, get online (sort of like you are now), dust off the old MasterCard, and buy it. While you're at it, come to the New City Cafe cd release show on September 30th. Or another show in your area, it doesn't matter. Just come out and support this art.