Sunday, January 31, 2016


It is Sunday morning, the last day of January 2016.
We are home from a wonderful trip to Cancun and were able to share our adventure with friends from Ontario, Canada. I have to say that this was truly a great time of doing absolutely nothing.

I mentioned to Chris that I was considering how much time we really were doing nothing -- just laying on the beach, relaxing. Even though we were together, someone might be reading, someone else napping, enjoying a cigar, people watching, etc. We were together, yet each to his/her own thoughts and relaxing in our own way.

To be sure, we had many lively conversations on the beach, at meals or just hanging out. We walked to the flea market to shop (5K round trip) and stopped at Bubba Gumps for a snack and refreshment on the way home. We learned a little about each other's culture, government and way of life and we laughed a lot. We also learned a few new words (our friend Jo-jo is quite a character!).

Chris and I did what we always do on a beach trip, but this time we were able to do it with friends.
No hurry
No plan
No schedule
No stress
No guilt about doing no-thing

I'm still feeling the relaxation after a day of travel and waking up in the Ozarks. I expect I'll be feeling it for some time!

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my retirement from the FAA.
I pretty much just cruised through the year without any goals or purpose. I may consider setting some kind of plan for year 2 -- or not.
Life is pretty good and my goals would probably be pretty simple and self serving --
Buy a new motorcycle.
Go to more baseball games.
Go to a baseball game in Toronto with our Canadian friends.

On the other hand, there maybe some worthwhile goals --
Plant a garden (finally).
Cook at home more often.
Travel more (that could go in either list, but it looks better here!).
Read more (again, could go in either list).

Anyway, you get the idea.

I have a pretty awesome life!
And it really is nearly as awesome in the Ozarks as it is on the beaches of Mexico -- but not quite!

Sunrise from Ozark

John <><

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cool Friday Morning

It is cool and breezy to begin the day on our last full day in Cancun and today's temps are forecast to be the coolest temps of the week (low 70s).

We have had a grand time doing nothing more than enjoying the beach and enjoying time with our friends. I know that Chris wants to do some shopping today and maybe we'll take the walk to the flea market (1.5 miles) and back to accomplish that.

One of the more lasting benefits of this trip may be that I've been getting my walk in early in the day. I like that. I need to work that into my home routine, as well. Maybe an early morning walk or exercise session is what I need to start everyday.

Of course, I also think I should have a cigar on the beach everyday!

Well, the sun is up.
So am I.
Time for coffee!

Have a grand day!

John <><

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thursdays are for Thanksgiving -- Cancun Style!

I'm thinking it would be impossible not to be thankful on a day like today!
The sun is warm.
The ocean is beautiful.
After a light breakfast, my tummy is satisfied.
I have a fine collection of cigars to choose from later today.
Chris will be down to join me on the beach.
...And we have friends with us, as well.
It is another good day to be John Hill!

As for the trip update...
Wednesday was even more of a do-nothing kind of day than Tuesday.
There was a walk on the beach followed by smoking a cigar on the beach, followed by sunning on the beach, followed by lunch on the beach, followed by more sunning on the beach, followed by another cigar on the beach, followed by another walk on the beach.
Beach time was occasionally interrupted by ocean time or pool time which was always followed by more time on the beach!

My new-found Canadian friend Gord made cigar smoking time especially enjoyable by visiting the local market and bringing back this fine selection for us to enjoy!

My first choice was the Bolivar. Gord went with the Cohiba.

I also enjoyed a couple from the selection that I brought with me -- a VS Cabinet '99 and a Rocky Patel Vintage 1992. I can't ever remember having the time to enjoy three good cigars in a single day!

I don't know what Thursday will bring, but I suspect I'll be spending a little more time in the shade as I may have been a little heavy on the sun yesterday. It will be beach-shade which is way better than Ozark sunshine! I am happy that my friends back home seem to be experiencing unseasonably warm weather for January and hope that it continues next week when we return home.

Be thankful.
Enjoy your day.

John <><

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tuesday in Cancun...

Day 4 of our Cancun trip was a pretty uneventful day.
By that, I don't mean that it was boring in any way. I simply mean that we didn't do anything other than to enjoy the beach, time with our friends and relax. I have been taking advantage of the outdoor time to enjoy some pretty good cigars!

I feel a little bad that I don't have any great excursions to report. But I suppose that those outings are something that you would rather enjoy for yourselves anyway. We have been on several day trips in the past (although it has been many years since we've visited Cancun) and planned this trip knowing that most of our time would be spent sunning on the beach.

I did manage a 3 mile walk early in the day and will take a walk in just a little while this morning. It will probably be a little bit shorter today.

On my Instagram feed, I noticed that someone else was posting from our hotel and thought I had figured out who it was. The young woman ended up at the table next to me this morning and so I asked. It was a little awkward since her Instagram name is @disco_whore. I mean how does a 55 year old guy ask a pretty young woman, "Are you the disco whore?" without sounding like a creepy old man?
...especially if it isn't the right person!
As it turned out, it was the right person and she seemed pleased that I liked her pics. She and her friend are traveling from the Czech Republic.

It is already about 80 degrees here at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning in January.
Here is my breakfast view from the balcony on the lagoon side of the hotel.

Happy hump day!
John <><

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cancun: Day 3

Day 3 was another beautiful day!

Okay, by beach standards it may not have been great, but by John standards for a Monday in January -- it was absolutely wonderful!

It began as a pretty overcast sky but it was warm and breezy. I skipped the morning sunrise pic because of the cloud cover and only took a short 1 mile walk. The sun did come out shortly before noon and our friends from Canada arrived in time for lunch. We spend the afternoon and evening getting reacquainted with Jo-Jo and getting to know Gord -- and we laughed (a lot)!

We also met a younger couple from near the Yakima, WA area and they decided to hang out with the older people as we talked until past midnight. Sarah (don't know if she uses the "h" or not) is an engineer that works for WDOT (so she reminded me of our daughter in law, Jenny) and Mike is a construction worker.

It was a very enjoyable evening. This is the six of us by the ocean this morning.

I didn't know if I would be up for sunrise or not but did manage to get a couple of pics. It is supposed to rain sometime later today and possibly storm tomorrow.
No worries, right?

Right now I am fighting to see the screen on my Chromebook as I type away in the bright sunlight on the beach. It's pretty rough in the life of John Hill!

John <><

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cancun: Day 2

I was up at dawn and sat on the deck while waiting for the sun to grace the Caribbean sky.

And when the sun made its appearance about twenty minutes later, it was a glorious beginning to the day!

I was pleased to find the coffee at breakfast to be very good! Much, much better than what they served at dinner last night! After a light breakfast, I grabbed a couple of chairs on the beach and placed our towels and stuff on them. I enjoyed the sounds of the waves as background music for my daily Bible reading. You've got to admit, it's a pretty cool way to start the day!

When I finished with my stationary quiet time, I started out on a more mobile quiet time -- a 2.5 mile walk on the beach. It wasn't my usual quick pace. It was a steady pace, but barefoot on the sand is a little more work than walking the streets of Ozark! Shortly after I finished, Chris joined me on the beach and we began a pretty relaxing day. We did add another two miles of walking on the beach and a couple more miles walking through some of the shops that were open on a Sunday afternoon.

Again, the food was excellent for both lunch and dinner.
I had an avocado stuffed with tuna salad on a bed of greens and a medium rare flank steak with grilled cactus, onions and Pablano pepper, flan for dessert.
For dinner I had a grilled fish fillet (don't know what kind) with rice and veggies fried lightly in olive oil.

The sun has set (I missed taking a pic) and the moon has risen. Moonrise was as beautiful as sunrise!
My God paints a beautiful picture!

We're winding down the day (party animals that we are) chilling in the lobby and making use of the hotel's wi-fi.
Tomorrow we'll be joined by our Canadian friends and are looking forward to the rest of the week.

I hope that you are warm and safe and enjoying your week, as well!
It's a good week to be John Hill!

John <><

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Arrival Day -- Cancun

It's a relatively early end to day one in Cancun. We were up pretty early to catch a 6AM flight out of SGF, delayed in ATL for a short while (they aren't very efficient at the whole deicing thing) and arrived a few hours later than anticipated in Cancun.

Once through customs and with bags in hand, we waited for our transport to the hotel. As is often the case, nobody was in much of a hurry and probably didn't realize that we were wasting away to nothing since we missed a meal in the process of the late arrival.

Arriving at NYX Hotel Cancun was a different experience than we've grown accustomed to. The transport unloaded our bags, collected his tip and left us to try to figure out how to access the hotel. It was weird that no one from the hotel staff was there to greet us and haul our bags up the ramp to the entrance, which was actually on the second level.

After getting checked in, we changed into beach wear and headed back downstairs (two floors) and around to the covered, outdoor restaurant/bar for a late lunch.
This relatively small resort doesn't have a buffet as part of its all inclusive package, nor does it offer a variety of restaurants to choose from. Breakfast is served off the lobby and lunch and dinner are served in the outdoor area. And you order off a menu like you would at a restaurant.

For our late lunch, I had an appetizer of shrimp and fish tacos. The three tacos were pretty small (appetizer sized), served with fresh guacamole and salsa, and were very, very tasty! I had chicken fajitas for my entree, also serve with guacamole and salsa and equally as delicious. Portions were smaller than you would find in most American restaurants, but were really just right to satisfy and not so much as to feel stuffed. Service was also a little slower than we've come to expect, but other than being hungry, we had no place to go and were dining on the beach!

We took care of a few little things with the room, went for an afternoon walk on the beach, lounged at the resort and admired the ocean view, went back to the room and changed for dinner.
And again, the food was delicious! Dinner started with a salad bar that had plenty of fresh greens, veggies, soups and breads. For my main course I had a marinated flank steak with grilled onions, along with the standard guacamole and salsa. The steak was much more tender than I was expecting and had a sweet/smoky kind of flavor. The only disappointing thing to my palate was the after dinner coffee -- oy!
I may have to join Chris in getting my caffeine fix via Coca Light (or Diet Coke to us Americans).

In the end, I'm calling it a good day!
We arrived safely and none the worse for wear.
I enjoyed a good cigar on the beach and walked barefoot in the sand with the ocean lapping at my feet.
We dined on a couple of good meals and managed to read a little on the beach.
And we'll get to do it all again tomorrow.

Yes, friends, I am blessed!
John <><

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Throwback Thursdays are for Thanksgiving

It's a Wheel of Fortune Before and After kind of post that combines Throwback Thursday with Thursdays are for Thanksgiving.

The other night I was fixing a late night snack -- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- and was thinking about my son.
First of all, I should mention that I love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
I always have.
I'm one of those people that needs to have peanut butter on both pieces of bread, with the jelly in the middle. My jelly of choice the other night was a red raspberry -- you know the kind, the stuff with lots of little raspberry seeds. It always reminds me of when Aaron was a little kid and expressed his frustration that our blackberry jelly didn't have seeds. We usually spent a little extra for the seedless blackberry jam. One day, Aaron (about 4 or 5) says in frustration, "Can we quit buying the cheap jelly without seeds?"

So we started buying the jelly with seeds for the kids and kept buying the "cheap" seedless stuff for us!

Yesterday I got a call from Aaron. Part of our conversation was about some of the vacations that we took when the kids were still living at home. It was a great time -- both then and now.

I think one of the things that I am most thankful for today is that our kids have grown up to be the kind of adults that we like being with. I think they have made great choices for mates and I am looking forward to being able to vacation with them as adults (we talked about that, too).
Aaron actually called to tell me about a deal that he is working on for his job that is going well (both the deal and the job).

I really enjoy calls and texts from the kids when they share their good news and successes with me. As much as I love to reminisce about the past, I am really looking forward to the future and watching them to continue to grow as adults.

I posted yesterday that mine is a simple life -- and it is.
But my, oh my -- it is also good life!

John <><

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Simple Story

My life is a pretty simple story.

I have had no great adventures, accomplished no great goals, achieved no great wealth.
I have no degrees, little knowledge, less wisdom.
I have no popularity and few friends.
What I have to say means little to many, nothing to most.
I would say that my life has very little (if any) impact on anyone else.

Maybe your life sounds pretty similar.

All-in-all, it sounds like a pretty miserable existence.
But it isn't.

Because it is a simple story, it is also filled with simple pleasures.
A warm house.
A loving family.
A good night's sleep.
A new nugget of knowledge.
A long walk.
A good cup of coffee.
An occasional ballpark hot dog.

I interact with very few people on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the rare interactions with others. Truthfully, I'd say that I am selfish with my interactions and look to others for what I can learn from them more than for what I can share with them. I see their cultures, their adventures, their education, their lives as more interesting than mine and perhaps, look to live vicariously through their experiences.

I enjoy following people on Instagram and Twitter that lead much different lives than I do. I enjoy seeing their different food choices, exercise habits, family interactions and different social media interactions. I like to know why they believe what they believe and why they make the political choices they make.

Why do people think the way they think and how have we become so politicized in everything?
When did differences of opinion become reasons for hatred?

Sure, I have a simple story and a simple life.
But I am happy with that.
I don't think I need my 15 minutes of fame (which is good, since I'll probably never get it) to make me feel like I have a meaningful existence.
I should probably be more willing to share my simple experiences with others as they share theirs with me. I'll work on that.

It's cold out this morning , but will be warming up later. I'm enjoying my coffee. I'll walk later. It'll be another day that I will probably only talk with Chris and maybe a clerk at the store (I'll make that an errand stop on my walk).


John <><

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Dinner!

Sunday is a day that we almost always eat out after church. Again, we have our regular Sunday choices and we generally stay pretty close to home. Just staying close to home is limiting on its own as there aren't that many choices in our little community of Ozark MO.

We ended up at Prima's, a Mexican restaurant that Chris favors over the other Mexican restaurant in town. They have a great smothered carnitas dish that I usually get, but I was looking for something a little lighter today. I ordered the Baja salad with chicken.
It was really good -- nice salad greens with sliced avocado, peppers, onions and grilled chicken, served in a fried tortilla bowl. I got the house ranch dressing and mixed some salsa (and their hot salsa) with it since they didn't offer a Southwest ranch dressing with it (which is really what it needed).
All-in-all, it was a nice lunch. There was more to it than I was expecting and I probably could've eaten a little less.

On the other hand, the little extra didn't hurt when I was out on my afternoon walk.
It was cold!!! 16F (-9C) with a wind chill of 5F (-15C).
Tonight will probably be a fend for yourself kind of night and I'll find something to munch on while watching the UFC Boston fights.

Single digit temps for the Ozarks tonight. Winter has arrived!
The good news is -- you don't have to shovel cold!

Be warm,
John <><

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Eating out in Springfield MO (or anywhere else)

I know that I said that we were going to try to eat out less (and we are), but the truth is that we still eat out often. We are not generally eating out at fancy places -- just someplace that has decent food, is not too expensive and keeps us from having to cook and clean up at home. Often times, it's just a matter of being out when we feel like eating -- like today.

Today we were near downtown Springfield, which is a little out of our normal area. We ended up at Springfield Brew Co (SBC). I'm a fan of pub style food and SBC has a good menu and a decent variety of food. My usual choice is their Brewben sandwich. (What else would you call a Reuben at a micro-brewery?) I love a good Reuben and theirs is very good. 
This afternoon I decided to try the Chicken Pub Pie -- a pot pie in a small cast iron pot. 
Wow! I may have a new favorite meal at SBC! We don't eat there often and I should probably try to work my way through the menu. The few items that I have tried have all been very good. 

I'm not going to be a great food critic. I just know what I like. This pot pie had a nice top only crust and a rich creamy filling. It was served with a side of fresh salad greens with a light vinegar dressing. It could probably have used a small dinner roll or a half slice of rye bread. It wasn't a big meal, but it was just right for a late afternoon lunch. If we had been there for dinner or a larger meal, I probably would have needed and appetizer or a little something more. 

Even though we tend to frequent the same few places, I'll be sharing those places and dinner choices and perhaps, we will try some new places, as well. 

Bon appetit!

John <><

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 15

So it's mid January!
How are those resolutions coming along?

I'm doing well on the walking and more than halfway to my 100 mile goal. Unfortunately, I haven't done much else in the way of exercise. For now, I'm okay with that, but do need to add some upper body work in along the way.
My eating habits are pretty good and I've been logging my food intake again. I'm down 7+ pounds since the beginning of the year and am slowly working my way back to the 200# mark.

My daily Bible reading is still on track and should be pretty easy to maintain. Currently I'm reading through Acts and the epistles. I'll read through the gospels next and then determine how I'll read through the Old Testament.

I've written my first two long-hand letters and hope to continue to write one each week.

Mostly, I'm just enjoying life.
I have been reading more, but not as much as I thought I would.
I haven't been writing more and really need to set aside the time for that.

I have been watching more magic and also need to set up a regular time for that. I think I'll use a Michael Ammar tactic and consider treating magic like training for an athletic event.
Magic Training Camp!

There is little stress in my life right now. I like it this way. Perhaps I am too comfortable with not spending time with other people. Even when I am with others (like at church, a ballgame, whatever), I am comfortable keeping to myself and being alone (if you know what I mean). I don't know if that's a bad thing or not.

I have been spending less time on social media -- at least as far as reading posts from other people. I pay more attention to the blogs I follow and actual news feeds than to personal posts. I am following fewer and fewer people. One of the things that I like about Twitter over Facebook is that I can follow people without them following me and vice versa. We don't have to "be friends" for one of us to follow the other.

Oh well.

And I apparently missed another GOP debate last night. They really need to check the Blues hockey schedule when they decide dates for these things. I think that every one has been opposite a Blues game!

2016 is starting well. I hope that the same is true for you.

John <><

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Mild Winter Weather -- I like it!

It is still weird that I don't pay much attention to what day it is. It's been almost a year since I've been retired and the only thing that really helps me keep track of what day it is, is that Chris is still working!
When she hangs it up, I'm going to be a real mess as far as knowing what day it is.

The reason I mention that is because it is Thursday and I have almost missed another Thursdays are for thanksgiving post!

I am really thankful for the mild winter weather that we have been having. Today was wet and raining and I was out walking in the drizzle and light rain, but it was several degrees above the freezing point and as I am fond of saying -- You don't have to shovel rain.

I do have to admit -- I have a dark side that wouldn't mind seeing a nice snowfall.
Not because I like the snow, but because I don't have to get out in it! I guess it would be better if it snowed when Chris is off, too.
I could live with a cold snowy winter. It would give me more ammunition for moving to a warmer climate.

But for the most part, I really am enjoying the mild winter. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 50s. Saturday is supposed to have rain turning to snow, but I'm thinking that there will be little accumulation.

If it is going to get snowy and icy, the last week of January would be a good time for that as we will be enjoying the beaches of Mexico. I'm really not wishing poor weather for those of you that are still here in the Ozarks. I'm just saying that would work if it came to being able to pick a week...

Be thankful!

John <><

Bon Appetit!

I decided to try something different for dinner the other night.
I'm not sure where this crazy idea came from, but it turned out pretty well. I will definitely do a few things differently on a second go-round so I'll tell you what those variations will be.

We have leftover ham from the weekend and trying to figure out a way to eat it other than sandwiches (done that) or putting the rest into a pot of beans (will do that, too) was what got me thinking.
I ended up with kind of a ham pot pie that's cross between a quiche and a casserole.

I started with a store bought pie crust and placed it in a deep dish pie plate. Then I grated three potatoes and placed them in the "pie" (I'll only use two next time and maybe a little sweet potato for color, taste and texture). I chopped up some celery and onions (I don't measure anything so you'll have to go with what looks good for you) and mixed them in with the grated potatoes. I covered that with a generous amount of shredded cheese (cheddar and jack) and added frozen chopped broccoli (hey! it's January in the Midwest!). I beat together 3 eggs and 3 egg whites and a little half and half (did I mention that I don't measure?) and poured it over everything, then I topped it all with chopped up ham pieces.
You can season it to your taste. I used garlic, salt and pepper. Next time I'll add some cayenne or crushed red pepper.
Baked at 375 for an hour and 15 min. (or so -- don't remember exactly since I kept adding a little time from my original 45 minutes).

Here's the final product.

Next time I'll use more cheese (maybe mix some in with the potatoes, celery and onions), and I'll use lots more ham!

All-in-all, not bad for something I just made up in my head.
Now -- what to do with the leftover leftovers?
I think I'll heat up a slice and top it with a fried egg for breakfast!
Bon appetit!

John <><

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Homemade Household Stuff

So I spent part of my day yesterday taking care of a little house hubby stuff.
For several years now, we have been making our own laundry soap and dryer sheets. Usually, Chris has been the one to prepare them, but yesterday I took care of it.

The dryer sheets are easy. We use five uniform cloths and wet them with liquid fabric softener and then hang them to dry completely. We rotate through them as we do laundry and they will last us for several weeks.

For the laundry soap --
We tried a few different types -- both liquid and dry -- before settling on this one. We modified it slightly to better suit our needs. I guess it's a lot cheaper than buying detergent. You know what's in it. And it works.

You will need a bar of Fels Naptha soap, 2 cups of washing soda, 1 cup of Borax and a 5 gallon container (or larger) with a lid.

I start by finely grating a bar of Fels Naptha soap, adding hot water and "cooking" it in a large sauce pan until it is all melted.
Partially fill your container with hot water, add the melted soap and dry ingredients and stir until dissolved. Then use hot water to fill to 5 gallons and mix well. Use a half cup per load.

We use an old liquid detergent jug and fill it from our big bucket as needed. You will need to shake it well before using and stir the soap in the bucket before refilling your jug. You'll understand why. I suppose you could use some essential oils or other product if you wanted to add a scent to your detergent, we don't.

So there you have it!
Homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets!

John <><

Monday, January 04, 2016

Good news / Bad news

The good news is that it isn't as cold as expected this morning.
The bad news is there is a slight overcast layer of clouds in the Ozarks.

Of course it is the unexpected overcast layer that has kept the temperature a few degrees warmer than the forecast. It is also the reason that I won't be viewing this morning's meteor shower.

Expecting clear skies, I set my alarm for a 2:30 AM wake up, dressed, made my coffee and got out to the car before looking at the sky. Since I was planning on finding a spot away from town anyway, I decided to take a drive and see if the sky cleared in a few miles.

It didn't.

I did make the decision not to drink my coffee until I found clear skies. That way I wouldn't be too caffeinated to sleep if I found myself back at home -- like now. The coffee will be fine in the thermos for a few hours. It's been a year since I've used that thermos. I don't have much need for it since I no longer have to carry coffee to work.

Now to see if I can get back to sleep.
I'm a bit bummed about missing another night show, but that is the chance you take when it comes to watching the night sky.
Until next time ...

John <><

Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Holidays Continue ...

Yes, it is January 2nd and more than a week since Christmas of 2015, but the holidays continue in the home of the Ozark Hills.

Last night we had our Christmas gift exchange with Aaron and Jenny. Hannah and Daniel joined us to exchange their gifts and we had a nice dinner afterwards. Today we will have dinner out with our kids and Jenny's family and then return to our place to watch UFC 195.

The original plan was to go out to a sports bar to watch the fights but not everyone is a fight fan (nor is everyone a man-food fan). I decided to buy the PPV and watch the fights here. There is another TV for those that want to watch something else, plenty of room to visit, more comfortable seating and we can provide our own assortment of food fare.

I know that dining out with family and watching the fights aren't really holiday activities but they are happening in conjunction with a holiday visit so I am counting today as a holiday continuation. As a matter of fact, I may count each cold weather motorcycle ride with my new riding gloves from Chris as a holiday continuation. Our Christmas gift to each other won't be experienced until we meet with friends in Cancun in three weeks. And I will definitely remember the holidays with each use of my 5 bottle gift pack of hot sauces from Hannah and Daniel! And it will be like Christmas in April as I cash in my gift certificate to join Aaron and Jenny in St. Louis for a Cardinal/Cub Monday night game on the 18th.

So we will continue our family get together tonight and we will have a big family breakfast tomorrow morning before hugging Aaron and Jenny and sending them on their way back to Chicago.

Then --

We can take down the holiday decorations and get back to life as usual.

There is no reason that we have to go back to the usual grind, the usual diet, the usual habits, the usual attitudes.
It's a new year and a great chance for new attitudes, new habits and new practices.
Chris has recently expressed a desire to eat at home more often. Sure, we have said that in the past, but why not use the new year as a starting point. (We have actually been eating at home a bit more already.)
There are trails to be walked and exercises to be performed and there is life to be lived.
There is a garden to be planted and there are recipes to be prepared.
There are trips to be taken and adventures to be had.
There are friends to share our experiences of both sadness and joy.
We will share burdens and comfort one another, and
We will share joyful times and cheer each other on.
We will learn from our failures.
We will toast our successes.

We don't have to accept that the old ways are the only ways -- or the best ways.
We don't have to continue with negative attitudes nor negative people.
We don't have to always be right -- we can learn from others. We can be wrong and change our minds.

We don't have to accept the politics as usual climate in our government.
Why not challenge our candidates to offer real solutions in the months leading up to the November elections?
Why not allow them to change their minds without calling them wishy washy or saying that they've flip-flopped on the issues? Maybe they've learned something new and are trying to share that with their constituents or voters.

The truth is --
We can be better than we are.
As individuals, as churches, as communities, as a nation -- WE CAN BE BETTER THAN WE ARE!

And we can start -- today!

Why not do one thing today that will make you better than you were yesterday?
Maybe take a walk ... maybe take a rest.
Maybe start a book ... or finish a book.
Call an old friend ... make a new friend.
Eat better.
Learn something.
Teach something.
Throw something away that you don't need ... or give it to someone that does need it.

There must be a thousand things that you could do to be a better you today than you were yesterday.
Pick ONE!
You can pick another one tomorrow.

It's a new year!
Let's get started!

John <><

Friday, January 01, 2016

And ... We're Off!

It is a new year!

It is time to put the past where it belongs ... in the past!
You get to keep the consequences of the choices you've made, but you can ditch the guilt and the grudges that you have been carrying around. Forgive (including yourself), forget, move on.

The sun is up and shining brightly in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri this morning and it is shaping up to be a beautiful day (other than that part about Chris being called in to work)! Sunrise was at 7:26 today (so was I) and the days are slowly getting longer.

I donned my jacket and stepped out in the frosty morning to snap this pic of the first sunrise of 2016.

For my sky watching friends, one of the better meteor showers of 2016 will occur in the pre-dawn sky early Monday the 4th. The moon will set before 1 am (in the Midwest US) so you should have a nice, dark sky. Look to the north.
I'm thinking of brewing a thermos of coffee and heading out of town a little ways at around 3 AM. I'd say that us retired guys can do that sort of thing, but the truth is I did that same crazy stuff when I was working.

I find the order of our universe fascinating!
Even the simple things like the changing times of sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset, and the lengthening and shortening of daylight amaze me. Today's sunset is at 5:07 PM in Ozark and just before sunset tomorrow the Earth will reach its closest distance to the Sun in its slightly elliptical orbit.

I plan to pay better attention to the astronomical events of 2016 and I'll let you know about them as they are coming up or as I observe them. I may even try to post more sunrise/sunset photos this year. We'll see.

It's a new year!
Write a new story.
Be a new you ... if you want to be.
Find a new hobby.
Try a new food.
Go someplace you've never been.
Do something you've never done.
Make somebody smile.
Be a blessing.

And may you all have a blessed 2016!

John <><