Thursday, January 29, 2015

Night Sounds

            I love the sounds of night. Whether I’m sleeping in the house or outside enjoying the settling of darkness on the world, I love the sounds that accompany the activity of darkness. Trains blow their whistles around the clock, but the mystery and sadness only comes with darkness. The rattle of the wheels plunging down the tracks is like a deep drum beat accompanying the song of the whistle.

            I love to hear the soft calls of the owls and doves cushioning the night. No chirping songs pierce the gloom, only cooing to signal a mate. Sometimes the birds rustle the leaves or cause a branch to sway. They do not disturb the promised rest and quiet.

            Dogs bark. When I was little I wondered what they were saying. Bragging about chasing away a possum or skunk, maybe, or asking if a friend wanted to take a run in the pasture. They alert to every sound, ready to defend their territory, protect their home.

            Some trick of physics causes sounds to change with darkness. They become more distinct over longer distances, maybe because there are fewer of them. Trucks on the highway shift gears and gain speed as they leave congested streets. Their engines grab the night and soar off to other towns to deliver their load.

            When I was little, the night was filled with giants and monsters, galloping steeds and gallant warriors. Somewhere in the madness there was also sleep and dreams and rest. Now I remember my childhood nights and dreams with nostalgia. I love to revisit them in memory. Then I was always safe from the threats I imagined. Not even a storm disturbed my sleep.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Zones of Peace

I want to create in my life and my environment zones of peace that relieve the stress brought on my the normal activities of my days. Mostly I do this by the kind of things I read and meditate on. I have favorite Bible verses that help me slow down or calm down when I feel the problems of life beginning to overwhelm me. Sometimes I read poetry that helps me find my calm center. I think it helps me to keep up with the house-cleaning and not allow my surroundings to become messy. Pictures of peaceful scenes are comforting and pleasant. I also like to look at pictures of people I love and have them around my house.

Before I begin trying to really get into the serious business of achieving peace, I return to the problem that disturbs me. This seems a little counter-productive, but when I'm trying to claim and maintain peace, first I have to understand what is causing anxiety.

Writing about peace using scripture and quotes from other writers is the most useful thing I do to create and sustain peace in my spirit. I like to read a verse or a line over two or three times to begin my meditation. Then I may rephrase it in different words. Sometimes I realize my own attitude or mindset is the cause of my distress. If my unrest is caused by jealously or bitterness, I may need to confess before I seek peace. Confession alone may be the answer to my need of peace.

I recommend this method to my readers. It is not a quick fix, but it lasts for a while when you are through. Of course, you are the judge of whether it works for you. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter in the RGV

I'm not particularly thrilled with living in the RGV. The Winter Texans seem to love it. They flood in here sometime about October and stay till about March. It really helps the Valley economy and Church attendance, but they are here for the same reason I not so happy about it. The Winter Texans want to avoid winter and I value it greatly. Of course I'm not talking about winter in the far northern states where hard winters are common. East Texas is just 4 or 5 hundred miles north. We'd have a little ice, some very cold nights, and I'd need a good coat, but Texas is still a Southern State.

The real thing I miss here is the change in seasons. There is not a change here. I can't even tell winter from spring. Summer does make an announcement with heat! And it starts early, but that doesn't grace the environment with the kind of joy spring brings. Autumn is the same. There is no drawing of the curtain with the leaves changing and the smell of harvest in October. A few degrees on the thermometer is the only witness that the rest of the world is seeing these changes in vibrant technicolor, but the RGV just picks up the sun screen. 

Enough of the complaining! The weather man on the 10:00 O'clock News keeps whining about how dreary it is when it rains. He is yearning for the sun to come out; he and Annie know the "sun'll come up tomorrow" and my wonderful rain will be gone. The thermometer will hit 100 and I'll never noticed there was a spring.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Good Quality TV at Christmas

I think I have an in-bred fear of cheap and shoddy merchandise. My mother was very focused on maintaining good quality in her clothes, her home furnishing, and in my appreciation of what good quality meant. Lately I've become aware of cheap quality in groceries and ordinary items used every day. Tissues, for example, don't have to cost a lot to be useful, but I prefer that they not exhibit a high wood fiber content. At least I don't want to be able to count the tree rings in them. I don't really care to buy the most expensive item on the shelf, but I do want to avoid the out-of-date milk and the brown, mushy bananas. I assume all shoppers will agree with me on this.

This expectation of a quality product extends to TV programming. In late-night shows, quality performance has always been some what suspect. When Johnny Carson was the King of late nights, he was often criticized for the abundant use of guests hosts because he was taking a few days off. Every holiday was an excuse for Johnny to go on a cruise, or to the seashore, or spend a few days in Europe. Finding a substitute host  was an acceptable way to shift his responsibilities. Fans who missed him pointed out that he  was often gone more days than he worked. In his defense I will point out that guests on the show were the same quality entertainment that was present when he was there.  

Today late-night TV and daytime talk shows don't spend the same time and effort on programming around a hosts absence. Now they just run a repeat. I find this a cheap substitute for the real thing. I know re-runs are a staple of TV entertainment, but I expect a little more than I've seen lately from "live entertainment." Christmas TV programming has been a "cheap and shoddy" disappointment in this area.  Maybe it wouldn't be so insulting if there was more time delay, but when the same show is repeated with hardly a week time lapse, I can't get excited about it.