100 Things

As I have gotten… ahem… older, I have come to realize that there are certain activities that occupy more and more of my thoughts and dreams.  These activities tend to sit right between my eyes, as in no matter what I am doing, or what event or activity is currently holding my time they are hovering there waiting to take command of my day.  These activities are what I would give all my waking hours too if I didn’t have other pressing obligations such as, oh I don’t know, a job!!  But such is life.  So today I give you another peek into what makes me tick; what gets me up in the mornings.  Here are

10 Things I Would Rather Be Doing:

  1. Playing music.  As a minister’s kid I grew up surrounded by music.  As soon as I was old enough to stand and mutter a sound I was on the church platform singing.  We traveled the church circuit performing and listening to southern gospel music; hymns, barber shop style harmony, quartets, trios, solos.  By the age of 4 I was learning to play the piano and have been hooked ever since.  I’ve played the piano my whole life.  I learned nearly every brass instrument created in the school band.  At 12 I was given my first guitar which took me through the rock and roll cycle through high school.  In college I returned to the piano and studied classical composition and performance, while continuing to compose and play blues, rock and heavy metal.  After several years of hopping from state to state chasing a career we settled back in North Carolina where I rediscovered my love for acoustic stringed instruments and mountain, folk, bluegrass and traditional music.  Most of my composition and performance now centers around this traditional Appalachian form flat-picking the guitar, banjo, mandolin and an extremely poor fiddle.  My classical training still raises it’s head frequently as well as I love to sit for hours at the piano improvising jazz melodies, riffs and progressions. 
  2. Camping.  I used to go camping when I was a kid.  You know, the backyard, church camp, scout camp kind of thing.  I have all the memories of 90 degree bug filled sleepless nights.  I actually swore I would never camp again after most of those horrid experiences.  But I have rediscovered camping as an adult.  We have gone from loading up like the Beverly Hillbillies with everything including the kitchen sink in the beginning, to now we carry only the barest of essentials.  There is nothing like losing yourself in the woods, both literally and figuratively, and discovering that primal sense of survival and raw humanity and utter solitude with nature.
  3. Hiking in the mountains.  This goes hand in hand with camping.  The more strenuous the better.  Climbing hand over hand, up and down rocks and cliffs, following the most narrow paths, inching along the precipice to catch the greatest long distance view of a dazzling sunrise or sunset; becoming one with the mountains.  There is nothing like it.
  4. Shooting Pool.  A great game of skill and concentration.  A good understanding of geometry doesn’t hurt either.  I love games that I can both compete at, and play alone.  Pool gives me the chance to focus my energy and strive for perfection.  It provides a very black and white result.  With every shot you either succeed or fail.  No interpretation necessary.  I like that.
  5. Woodworking.  I love to create things.  Taking a raw piece of wood, honing, shaping, carving, routing, engraving, inlaying and creating with my hands and my mind brings a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
  6. Painting.  I seem to find less and less time for this, but absolutely love to capture my vision and my interpretation of my surroundings on a canvas.  I think I don’t paint frequently anymore because I found it exhausting as well.  I tend to suffer over every brush stroke as I try to tangibly represent my impression of the scenery.
  7. Reading.  More and more of my reading seems to be on the Internet these days.  This blogging thing seems to get in your blood.  But I love to get sucked into a great book, both fiction and non-fiction.
  8. Writing.  I love to write, although I find it to be extremely hard work.  I’m pretty anal, and worry over every word, every phrase, every punctuation mark, every nuance of meaning. Oh the stress!!
  9. Cooking.  Me, pots, pans, carefully selected ingredients.  Yum.  I love to create layers and layers of complex flavor and texture.  I love to present my creations in interesting and artistic ways.  I absolutely love to hear people swoon over my culinary creations.  Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than to watch scarfing guests sop up every drop and devour every morsel and to sing my praises for my mad cooking skills.
  10. Dining.  Pure research.  I love food of all styles.  Although I don’t eat meat anymore I love fine dining at the hands of a creative chef who can build a culinary experience out of the most simple of vegetable ingredients.  I think a true sign of culinary mastery is when the richness of meats and animal products are removed from the chef’s repertoire, and he/she can still create an incredible dining experience.

And so there you have it.  I know there are many other things that steal my attention away from the tyranny of the urgent, but these are certainly 10 that keeping me daydreaming through out the day.  What steals your attention?


Do you ever feel, just, you know… satisfied … and happy … and uninteresting to the blog reading world?  Yesterdays post put me in quite this mood.  I don’t mean to brag, but I really have a pretty fantastic life.  OK, I do mean to brag, but hopefully this incessant optimism will be appreciated and understood.  I really have so much to be thankful for, my beautiful wife being just one.  It seems that there is so much negative in the world right now.  So much that can drag us down, not only physically, but mentally; psychologically.  It can be easy to get sucked in to negative thinking if we allow the things around us that we cannot control to creep in and grab hold of us.  Regardless of the positive things that I have going for me, gas still costs $4.00 a gallon; the housing bubble has burst; the mortgage finance world is in near collapse; global warming is threatening our environmental well-being, etc. etc. etc.  Very little that I do will significantly change the outcome of these scenarios in the immediate.  However, there is much to be happy about;  much to focus on, and much to apply my energy towards.  So as a start, for today I thought I would share 10 Things I have to be happy about.  There are definitely many, many more, but here is part of what keeps me smiling everyday:

  1. I have a great, supportive family.  As mentioned previously I have the greatest wife a man could ever desire.  I also have four fantastic children, three of whom have grown to adulthood and are experiencing their own successful lives, including the addition of the best daughter-in-law I could ask for.
  2. I have a great place to live.  It’s not a mansion, but it’s a comfortable home that provides shelter and place to keep my stuff.
  3. I am currently gainfully employed.  Although I do work for the corporate world which seems to shift and change on a whim of the fickle financial markets, my business is strong and we would appear to be in good shape for the present.
  4. My wife and I, as well as my children all have been blessed with good health.  We are all strong and healthy, and are working hard to remain that way.
  5. My entire family has been blessed with the gift of music.  We love to get together and listen to music, as well as create and perform music together.  What a great source of happiness!!
  6. We live in the Southern United States of America; considered by me to be the most beautiful and friendly part of the country.  We are fortunate to have mountains, sand hills, plains, coast, lowlands, winter, spring, summer and fall, all within easy access of anywhere in the area.
  7. I love the Internet, the blogger world, all the cyberfriends I have accumulated, and I have a MAC.  Woo Hoo !!!!
  8. I have many, many, many, many hobbies that I regularly engage in that are relatively inflation proof.  It doesn’t cost much to write a song, or carve a piece of wood, or draw / paint a picture, pick a guitar / mandolin / banjo, play a piano, or shoot pool on an already paid for table.
  9. I love to read, and I have easy access to lots of books and other reading material, not to mention about a gazillion blogs in the old google reader.
  10. I live in a great area that provides lots of recreational opportunities: walks in the woods, hiking, camping, music festivals, craft-brewing festivals, wineries and vineyards, etc.

 So as you can see, I have much to be thankful for, and much to focus my energy and attention upon.  No need to fret over those things that can’t be controlled, or worry about all those unknowns.  Put your attention on today, because tomorrow will take care of itself.

Oh yeah, and GO OBAMA ’08!!  YES WE CAN!!