The Memories in Things

Vintage Nishiki

 

I was cruising along on my circa 1987 Nishiki Manitoba bicycle when I realized my tire was going flat. Now this bike has seen some miles. One Spring my brother and I put together all of our birthday money from grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, our lawn mowing money and anything else we had made and told dad we wanted to get some mountain bikes. Living in rural New Mexico there were not many bike shops and we knew that Cycle Cave in Albuquerque was the coolest of them all. This is long before the big sports stores and the Walmart that now offers virtually everything in my hometown. We set off one Saturday morning and drove the four hours to Albuquerque dreaming of the bikes we would buy. We arrived at the cycling paradise with everything you could imagine in a store that was huge for an 11 year old. We shopped and shopped and finally decided on the Nishiki Manitoba. It had everything you could want…and we could afford it! We bought two of them that matched, but mine was slightly larger as I was a bit taller at the time. We loaded up the pickup, got some dinner and started the drive home. Now, my dad always liked to drive late into the night, who knows why, but when we pulled off the road at the Bosque Del Apache in Fort Sumner, I came to realize it was a lack of funding that kept us from the cozy hotel down the road. We slept for a few hours in the pickup and then started home.

It was first light one Sunday morning when we drove into Portales and dad dropped us off at C&S Oil to fill up our tires and ride across town to get home. We raced, we sped, we crossed the University campus at record speeds and made it home to see Dad had woken up mom and my sister (it was well before 7 AM) and they were smiling as we road up triumphantly on our new bikes. It was glorious. We weren’t sure who we beat, but we were the victors…maybe it was life itself that we had beaten…maybe it was having something new when we were struggling through the Agricultural depression…maybe it was that those bikes represented freedom to ride anywhere in town mom would let us. Freedom, ultimate freedom.

Today I looked at my tire that has been replaced multiple times and now has several holes and needs to be replaced again. The seat is the same one that I rode that day so long ago…and it’s not comfortable…the paint is faded…logically it’s time to move on with a new bike. But as I look at this bike I remember a trip with Dad, a race with my Brother and the moment where we raced like the wind across town to get home before Dad. He beat us that day, but it didn’t matter, we were all smiles in that moment.

That moment will never come again. It lives only in my memory and that of my brother, sister and mom. Eventually no one will remember that moment. The bike reminds me of that day. When I move on to the next realm, get rid of it, it won’t mean anything to you…but to me, it’s a reminder of a moment in time that was beautiful.

Posted in Fatherhood, The Journey, This is living! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed?

Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crossing Borders

Driving across the West Texas Plains is nothing new to me. I have spent much of my adult life driving from New Mexico across the border to cities in West Texas but this return trip to New Mexico felt more like a victory parade than a casual drive. On June 28th fifty students and teachers piled off a sixteen hour bus ride from various parts of the Mexican state of Sonora. I have to admit that I had no idea what to expect. I had been asked to build an exchange program for students from the State University of Sonora and I had done just that, but the students and faculty to take part were simply names on a roster. Little did I know how the month would go.

UES Students

Students and teachers at a State University of Sonora campus.

Driving along the Llano Estacado, following a bus with Mexican plates I feel right at home. This area is where I grew up, right across the border in New Mexico. While I felt right at home, clearly it was new territory for the students from Mexico. They had come to the states, learned some English and more than anything about themselves. Exchange programs like this one are crucial to understanding other cultures and folks that think a bit differently. Admittedly, Americans, Canadians and Mexicans have very similar cultures and it is easy enough to move through the three countries and have a basic understanding of each others faith, language and generally our thought process. Much of our perceived difference is really similarities disguised by a different language or way of living.

2015-07-21 09.38.09     Not to say that we don’t have differences, we do. Much as a Californian has a different way of thinking than someone is from Minnesota where I was born. New Mexico is a unique mix of cultures and I will be the first to admit that I see value in this mixture. I grew up with a diverse culture, two languages and best friends that did not look like me. However, the differences in a businessman from Hermosillo, Sonora vs. a businessman from Tucson are likely less stark than we would believe. Teachers face similar struggles in student learning in Chihuahua as they might in Saskatoon. The beauty of an exchange and meeting other people is that you learn how very similar we are. Once the language barrier is taken out of the picture, similarities abound. They love their children just as much as I love mine, they care about the future of their nation just as I care about mine, they smile, laugh, have fears and hopes…just as I do.

Since this event in 2015, so much has come to pass. The peso has lost much value vs. the dollar, the political climate has shifted and we are left as North Americans to consider our future together. To be clear, it is a future together. We are neighbors and we are old friends, although sometimes cranky neighbors. We handle things differently and much like squabbling children, we have all made2015-07-17 19.19.32 mistakes, said and done things we would like to undo. But our future is to be written together. We are neighbors and we will work together for generations to come how well we succeed together is the question at hand. The future will be written by the students who came to this exchange in New Mexico, the Americans who travel to Mexico for business or vacation and the Canadians who welcome us to their country and are equally visiting ours. This is the future and it is unavoidable, inextricably and unquestioningly together.

The students who came from the State University of Sonora learned teamwork at NMMI, but in their time here they taught us much about ourselves and came to better understand our Independence Day when they learned about American independence and watched our fireworks. They better understood why we are proud to be American. They also explained Mexican independence, which was them throwing out two European powers, Spain and France. We are a tenacious continent full of firebrands…and that might explain some of our squabbles.

2015-07-11 11.00.20 So, as students visited Lincoln and learned about the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid, they came to appreciate the struggle that our ancestors went through in the West. Additionally, when we visited Fort Stanton they learned of two dark chapters in American history, in the mistreatment of the native population, and the Confederate forces who took this fort and claimed Southern New Mexico in the early years of the Civil War. There are similar dark chapters in Mexico’s history. One of which is still underway in their war on the gangs and cartels that prey on their young for new members and constantly work to undermine the freely elected government in Mexico City and the States. They are not our enemy in the War on Drugs, they should be our ally.

437A0668

sip1 5x7 (3)

When you look at these pictures, realize that they are Mexican citizens who are going to college, working hard and building a stronger Mexico. When we make blanket statements, they are not only unfair, but they serve to undermine our relationships with our two neighbors. These folks are building a stronger North America. Lets stop squabbling and take time to understand their strengths and struggles as they understand ours. An economically strong Mexico stems illegal immigration naturally, it builds a bigger table. It’s a table and a meal that we are setting for our children and grandchildren. Let it be a table of peace.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Time and Place

Santa Fe is a great place to relax and take a break from the world. It’s timeless. Today I showed my kids the oldest church, built in the 1600s with pieces imported to Santa Fe over the Camino Real from Central Mexico, a tremendous feat. The oldest house, featured in an 1879 Harper’s Weekly when12 families shared the tiny space. Then on to the miracle of Loretto Chapel and the force of will that it took Archbishop Lamy to complete the Cathedral Basilica dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.

What is best about these stops? They are virtually unchanged from the first time I visited them with my parents. The Drury Plaza is a great base for your Santa Fe adventure with a rooftop pool for the kids and a bar for those of age. The sunsets from this vantage point are incredible and you can almost see a caravan moving into the city bearing a bell from the 1300s that had been carried by a ship from Spain, to Veracruz and over the treacherous journey of the Camino Real to its home here. You can ring the bell and it will show beauty despite adversity as it still rings just as beautifully as the day it was cast. It’s a place out of time and in this age of noise a welcome respite.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Farewell to Leo

We start a day with sadness of heart

Knowing that today we will part

With a beast that will live on in legend

Leopold came into our lives in bad shape

With ticks and fleas, scratching him as he rested

We quickly vanquished the pests, uncontested!

He knew two other great pets, Copper and Rev

Copper was great, but with beautiful baby Brenna could be testy

And Rev was super smart and Knoxie’s bestie

Leo was special and in 12 years

Taught us all lessons, calmed our fears

Was always content and never ever bit

Leo is part of a line of our families great pets

From Ginger, Snowy, Lady, Rascal and Fritz

They are the ones, quirky and kind

That live on in the memory of the family line.

We lay to rest a legend of the family,

he welcomed two children into the fold

loved and protected them in ways untold

While we say goodbye, today to part

We remember him as a work of art

In the end the ones we remember

Are the ones who were there in December

When the times are cold and heartache aplenty

They sit by your side and show us each kindness

They feel our happiness and our sadness

and they celebrate with us even unnoticed through our own madness

Have we appreciated them enough, certainly not

We gained much more from them than the love they got

They cared for us from beginning to end

He was loved by all…some who have gone before

But none of us could possibly love him more

His story lives on in our family lore.

Posted in The Journey | Leave a comment

How teachers make a difference.

via On Influential Teachers and the Ever-Influential Richard Cory

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What we leave behind.

I am often reminded of the wake of our lives and how our actions impact others. I have this bad habit of replaying whole conversations, or sometimes days in my head after the fact to think about how that conversation sounds from a third person’s viewpoint. I replay it in my head as I sit in judgment on all that has been said by others and myself, work through what was going on and the undercurrents I might have missed. This allows me to consider others and make corrections for my sometimes caustic behavior. Often my family is the topic of this replay as I am always more concerned about what I say and do with them. How are my actions today impacting my kids? It’s very hard to see the long-term, but most certainly my actions do impact them.

I am reminded of a poem that I once heard my grandma recite to my father. It addresses sons, but in my mind it applies just as much to my daughter…a-little-fellow-follows-me-wooden

The other side of the world I now see as my father slips from the best years of life into twilight. As he gets closer to the end of his time on earth I see his actions in my own more and more. He isn’t perfect, but neither am I. That is the realization that is too long in coming, but may be part of middle age. We become like our fathers, but I continue to work to keep the good and overcome my irritation and frustration with that little chap and my little princess and focus on the good. We still discipline the same, but they are kids…and they are watching and learning how to be adults by my actions everyday. My actions will not only make him the young man he will be, but may lead him one day to realize that I’m not perfect, but neither is he…maybe its those imperfections that make us family. Loving each other unconditionally through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Posted in Fatherhood, The Journey, This is living! | 1 Comment