Beauty with age

rusted light fixtureIt’s rust­ing.

Is rust beau­ti­ful? Some think so. Oth­ers think it needs to be sanded off, painted with primer and given a pro­tec­tive coat. For our bath­room light fix­ture, we could go one of three ways — leave it as it is, replace it or fix it. The lazy option won out — for the time being.

Another thing about this light fixture’s rust is that it causes the fix­ture to no longer look new — and it’s not per­fect anymore.

The desire for per­fec­tion varies from per­son to per­son. As peo­ple mature, they real­ize that all bat­tles can’t be won, so they must choose which bat­tles to fight. One must decide whether each fight for per­fec­tion is worth spend­ing the energy, time and/or money to win.

They do the same thing

Tutima watch dialI love expen­sive watches. But I would never buy one.

One warm fall day I was dri­ving north on a major street in sub­ur­ban Den­ver. At every stop light, my $3,000 Toy­ota arrived slightly before the $100,000 Porsche in the lane next to me. Both dri­vers were accom­plish­ing the same thing — going from Lit­tle­ton to Denver.

A $2,000 Tutima watch (https://tutima NULL.com/watches/) tells time maybe just slightly more accu­rately than a $30 Timex. Its intri­cate detail is beau­ti­ful to behold. The owner knows that he sup­ported a crafts­man in Ger­many rather than a fac­tory worker in China. If the owner breaks it, his tears will last much longer than those of some­one who breaks their Timex.

But the Tutima owner is buy­ing exclu­siv­ity. He may be the only kid on his block with that model. He knows that his wrist is hold­ing a reflec­tion of high human achievement.

How long does the plea­sure of buy­ing an expen­sive watch last? For some, a long time. For those with many, prob­a­bly a short time.

I do grant a peer-review aspect to the equa­tion. If a real estate agent is try­ing to sell a $2,000,000 house, she may not want to be seen wear­ing a $35 watch. With a Patek Philippe (http://www NULL.patek NULL.com/contents/default/en/home NULL.html) on her wrist, the mes­sage is, “I’m in your league.”

Which watch will you buy?

Artisan lip balm and whiskey

Burt's BeesBurt’s Bees was sold to Clorox. Small dis­til­leries may be sell­ing you whiskey that was mostly made in a giant factory.

You already know that all is not as it seems. But we are sus­cep­ti­ble to good marketing.

The Den­ver Post reported on Sep­tem­ber 28th that many craft dis­til­leries are using whiskey that is made in giant fac­to­ries (http://www NULL.den­ver­post NULL.com/business/ci_26614928/most-liquor-made-factories-no-matter-label).  It may be a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing to some­one who spends $65 for a bot­tle of “hand-crafted spir­its” to find out that they have bought some­thing made in a mas­sive factory.

Peo­ple with chapped lips want­ing some­thing bet­ter than Chap­stick have turned to Burt’s Bees for a long time. They have (and do) buy that brand because of its more nat­ural ingre­di­ents and the company’s envi­ron­men­tal respon­si­bil­ity. But did you know that Burt’s Bees was bought by Clorox in 2007 (http://www NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2014/09/26/business/media/with-whimsy-burts-bees-introduces-its-first-tv-campaign NULL.html)? That’s prob­a­bly not sur­pris­ing to you. But we still like the idea that our pur­chase will be health­ier and more respon­si­ble than some­thing we buy from a big cor­po­rate global man­u­fac­turer. We also like the idea that our prod­uct is made in a small facil­ity by local humans, rather than on some anony­mous assem­bly line.

The only way to truly buy local and arti­san may be to visit the fac­tory to see how they make what you want to buy. And be pre­pared to pay dou­ble (or more) than what the national brand might cost.

Healthy and respon­si­ble is not cheap.

Disappearing beauty

flowersAfter Heather’s mom died, we had a lovely memo­r­ial ser­vice. A hand­ful of very kind peo­ple gave loads of beau­ti­ful flow­ers. There were so many that her dad couldn’t keep them all in his condo. So we inher­ited sev­eral bou­quets. (I took this photo of my favorite arrangement.)

As the days after the ser­vice passed, the flow­ers slowly died. I con­tin­u­ally mourned the loss of all that beauty.

Part of my brain lives so much in the present that I feel like the flow­ers will last for­ever. The same feel­ings about those flow­ers have been true for the apples on our back­yard tree. This year, our tree has pro­duced the very best apples yet. And I enjoyed one for lunch almost every day for at least three weeks.

I’m sad.

It takes a special person

spiky shoesHow fun that there are com­pletely imprac­ti­cal shoes! My wife would not wear them. I might buy them for her, if she would.

It’s just great that things like this exist.

(I took the photo in Los Ange­les. Den­ver is home to fewer such stores.)

Something fun

bathtub soap holderLife is short. I am happy this time to focus on some­thing fun...

Cre­ativ­ity.

How great to have a soap dish like a lit­tle bath­tub! The cre­ator sim­ply took some­thing out of con­text — a soap dish — and made it into some­thing related but entirely dif­fer­ent than normal.

May we all be infused with a bit of fun cre­ativ­ity today.

Full disclosure

sunsetI always feel a ten­sion about how much is appro­pri­ate to share. If I lean toward the vul­ner­a­ble side, my expe­ri­ences may res­onate with some of my read­ers in a deeper way than oth­er­wise pos­si­ble. If I lean toward the sur­face level, I won’t alien­ate any­one. And how much dis­clo­sure is too much?

I’ve been strug­gling with how to share a sig­nif­i­cant life event. Last week, my mother-in-law died after a long strug­gle with many ill­nesses. Her release from a body that was not work­ing any­where close to what it did ear­lier in life was a bless­ing to her and oth­ers. But we greatly miss her — the woman we remem­ber who was funny, lov­ing, nur­tur­ing and much more. How can any­one sum up the life of another in a few short words?

I was the first to visit her room at the hos­pice. I saw her frail form lying with her hands folded, hold­ing a pink rose. I walked to the lobby to wait for her hus­band to come. Then we went to her room together and cried. I cry, even writ­ing this.

Life is a bless­ing. Love those around you today.

Blind

blurred image - what a partially blind person might seeWhat’s it like to be blind? Those with sight can never know. Those who lost their sight later in life have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions than those born blind, as they retain mem­o­ries of what the world looks like.

The per­cep­tions of a blind per­son must be totally dif­fer­ent than the per­cep­tions of a sighted per­son. Tem­per­a­ture changes and smells are much more impor­tant, I would guess. See­ing peo­ple can never know what a song is like to a blind per­son. I imag­ine that a richer and deeper set of col­ors accom­pany the mood of a piece of music.

But we are all blind. Another Paul said this (https://www NULL.bible­gate­way NULL.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+13%3A12&version=NLT): “Now we see things imper­fectly, like puz­zling reflec­tions in a mir­ror.” They say humans only use about 5% of their brains (or some­thing like that). Maybe a deaf per­son uses 10% of the visual part of their brain, and a blind per­son uses 10% of the audi­tory part of their brain — and a per­son with sight and hear­ing only uses 5% of every part. Every­one uses dif­fer­ent lev­els of each sense. We all have our strengths and weak­nesses. Our strengths and weak­nesses open us up to dif­fer­ent vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties — and abilities.

If you are blind and read­ing this, I’d love your reflec­tions on the topic.

Insulated and isolated

moving houseOur new neigh­bors moved in. They used a large Penske rental truck that they drove from a dis­tant city.

Some­how I thought of vil­lagers hav­ing to move their worldly pos­ses­sions due to war. Every­thing they have is car­ried on their backs or loaded on a cart pulled by a don­key. What a con­trast to life in America.

I live such an insu­lated life here. If I don’t visit web­sites to read and see what’s going on in other parts of the world, I am bliss­fully unaware. And even if I do see what’s hap­pen­ing, I become desen­si­tized to the pain and suf­fer­ing. There’s so much of it.

What can I do? I could give. I could down­size my pos­ses­sions, so I don’t feel guilty about hav­ing so much. I could go over­seas to try to help. I can pray for those who are hurt­ing. I’ve done all those things, but it still does not seem to be enough.

Does the fam­ily mov­ing their pos­ses­sions on their backs feel less guilt than I? It’s hard to say. Do they feel more pain? Yes.

Where am I going with this post? I don’t know. Maybe just shar­ing the pain will help a little.

The photo of the refugees was taken by Julien Harneis (https://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/julien_harneis/3009852745/) and is used under a Cre­ative Com­mons license. If you click on his name, you can read a lit­tle of his story, which took place in the Demo­c­ra­tic Repub­lic of Congo in 2008.

Foot­note: A good friend is going to the mid­dle east to make a dif­fer­ence. You can give to help her efforts. Among other things, she will be teach­ing zumba classes in the West Bank. Visit her site (http://beirutandbeyond NULL.org/).

One way to save millions of dollars

ford-lotAbout once a week for about a year, I rode my bicy­cle past this com­pletely full car lot. All these cars can­not even be seen by the pub­lic from the dealership’s already ample lot. This is an over­flow lot on a side street.

There are two rea­sons why this deal­er­ship has about $3,000,000 worth of trucks and cars con­stantly sit­ting in that lot: 1) They want buy­ers to be able to buy a pur­ple model with or with­out a sun­roof today and not go to another deal­er­ship; and 2) Ford essen­tially requires them to keep that much inven­tory through var­i­ous arcane regulations.

Europe is not that way. You may have to sched­ule an appoint­ment three days in advance to test drive the car you are con­sid­er­ing. But that’s the sys­tem, and peo­ple are used to it.

One sys­tem is built upon instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. The other sys­tem is built on high real estate values.

All I know is that this kind of Amer­i­can excess breaks my heart.

I took about 20 pho­tos of this lot under var­i­ous light­ing con­di­tions. Maybe some­day I’ll cre­ate wall­pa­per or some­thing with those pictures.