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Obscured by the gray building in the distance and across Interstate 77, sits my first house. I can’t see the house from my hotel window, but I know it’s there.

It is a Dutch colonial with a gambrel-style roof. Most people who see the house say, “It’s the Amityville Horror House.” It is small and noisy, and sometimes unnerving if one happens to wake up at 3:30 AM. It was the host of many good times and a few bad ones.

It is just a house, though. A home is something different.

As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always carried “home” in my heart, where I refuse to allow it to be obscured by times of sadness, an occasional, and sometimes startling, pre-dawn awakening, confined to a structure, or limited by time or geography.

I’m in my hometown today, but it’s not my home.

 

 

 

I resumed painting about a year ago, after a 30-year hiatus, as both an exercise in personal creativity and as a form of relaxation. I try to paint something at least once a week, but due to my travel schedule, today was the first time I’ve pulled out the paints in almost a month.

I completed one piece and worked on two others. Clearly, I needed to relax after so much recent travel.

I enjoy painting, and although I’ve completed many pieces in recent months, I’ve yet to paint using my own “eye,” instead of creating my new works through the lens of other artists whose work I admire. This frustrates me at times because I can’t seem to paint exactly the image I have in my head. I have the technical ability, and I’m dissatisfied with the outcome when compared to my vision.

I suppose it takes time to paint without the topic and style being influenced by others. Until then, nothing I create, although uniquely mine, will be truly unique.

It seems to me the same could be said about the life I’m living.

Now, what to do about it.

 

 

 

The Boy, the Niece, and I spent the day milling around Savannah after a college visit with Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The city buzzes with creativity; young artists and musicians freely share their talents and ideas without fear of judgment. The city and its people nurture creativity and encourage freedom of expression.

To me, the city feels like a wonderful place for budding talent to fully bloom. Time will tell if the Boy and the Niece will feel the same. Regardless, it’s their choice.

I am certain, though, that they will achieve artistic success regardless of the college or life path they choose. Today, I learned that they already understood something that took me nearly twenty years to learn: creativity thrives only when given complete freedom for individual expression.

Two teenagers got in the car with me yesterday. Two adults got out of the same car this evening. The funny thing is I don’t think they changed at all during the last twenty-four hours.

 

The Boy had only been awake a few minutes, but he had already snagged his favorite spot on the couch where he and the cat sat watching cartoons when I snapped this picture.

There’s a touch of sleepiness still in his eyes, his hair sticks up a little, and his smile reflects his naturally pleasant attitude and his kind spirit, even at the early hour. Even at his young age.

Tonight we’re in Savannah for a college visit.

Just as when he was small, I take one last look in on him in the next room before I go to bed. I can’t tuck him in; he’s too old for that. Still, I can’t help but to see the Boy from the picture as he takes his eyes off the television for a moment, looks at me, and smiles.

I can see the sleepiness in his eyes. His hair sticks up in different places now, yet his smile still reflects the kindness he carries in his heart.

I love the Boy more than he can ever know.

 

It’s fun to have a little extra time to take in the sights, sounds, and food in the places I go for business. I am an introvert, but traveling to new places is always exciting for me.  I seek the energy of big cities, although I’m often physically overwhelmed by the constant stimulation.

I don’t think I could ever again live in a big city. I need the peacefulness and solitude the mountains provide.

It’s always good to come home, my wanderlust notwithstanding. The respite allows me to continue exploring the world.

Such is the curse of the introvert.

I believe there are more donut shops per capita in California than in any other state.

A simple hot dog, on the other hand, was impossible for me to find.

My selection today at Dynamo Donut, the candied orange blossom, explained it all.

Experimenting with donut flavors is fun and adventurous. But, let’s just keep avocados off the hot dogs.

P.S. “T-shirts” on the menu, is not a flavor. 😉

I’ve seen spectacular sights this week; baby seals, mountain vistas, giant redwoods, beaches, and some of the most amazing sunsets.

My butt is sore from the 1,000+ miles I’ve driven, the nights have been late, and I’ve had way too much coffee.

All of which, I think, contributed to the dream I had last night about reading an interview with Dracula in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. It began:

NYT: So, what do you think about all of these vampire movies? Recent reports say the average vampire in a movie is making upwards to $387,000 a year.

Dracula: Seriously?! $387,000…dollars?! A year?! The only vampire I know making that kind of money is my son, Ricardo Montalban. He’s a very efficient vampire, but his acting talents leave something to be desired. Go figure. You know, he’s not really dead.

NYT: What about Robert Pattison?

Dracula: Don’t even get me started on that boy and his movies. What’s this business about a vampire fathering a child in, uh, let’s say, “a conventional manner?” Give me a break…

Apparently, all this time in California has my subconscious thinking about a career change. I’m not so sure I’d make a great vampire though.

At least not at $387,000 a year.

People without shoes, sadly, are not uncommon on the streets of a big city.

The same cannot be said of shoes without people.

Naturally, I wondered what the neatly-placed shoes were doing, alone, on the streets of San Francisco. After considerable thought, I’ve concluded that the shoes are in search of a new owner.

Whether they began this search by their own volition, or whether they were dropped in this location by their former owner, matters not to me. I’m happy to live in a country where people, and shoes, do their part for those less fortunate.

I just wish I saw more shoes, neatly-placed on the sidewalk, looking for new feet that fit.

I spent this day outdoors.

I walked a short trail to see giant redwoods.

I retraced the path of the landscape photography giant, Ansel Adams.

Above all else, I was reminded of the giant scale of God’s handiwork.

 

I like the idea of the beach.

The soothing sounds of crashing waves, steady ocean breezes, and taste of salt in the air are all appealing to my senses; salt water and sand, not so much.

Still, who can pass a beach without putting toes in the water?

Bare feet are not required to experience the idea.

I sat quietly on the trail above the cave, watching the waves crash while I drank my coffee and enjoyed a wild, blueberry muffin.

A bird flew in and perched on the rock in front of me, presumably to watch the waves, too.

A dog passed, followed by its owner.

Moments later a lady in white, clutching the Sunday New York Times Magazine passed from the opposite direction. I made the mistake of looking up when I heard her talking, thinking she was talking to me instead of herself.

Her five-minute rant about dogs running loose, exposing themselves to people with allergies and pooping on the trail almost sounded lyrical with her eastern European accent.

The dog had clearly ruined her day.

She, the dog, and the bird, just made me smile. And I took another sip of coffee.

Small, deliberate acts of a parent;

a foundation for a child’s success.

Small, deliberate acts that make a difference;

past, present, and future.

Small, deliberate acts of appreciation;

always welcome.