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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Morning Message...

I felt a strong summoning this morning to walk amongst the oaks even in the midst of the solemness I viewed gazing out of the window before me. The cold early morning skies revealed not a whisper of sunlight nor happiness, just existence and an occasional reprieve that the end was truly not happening, not now at least. I have always felt tremendous power and spiritual energy from trees, especially large oaks. It is not anything you can quantify nor cast away, it is purely there for those who believe in the magic of the moment, the hidden arrangement of all moments, none of which are ever ordinary.

As I strolled with my border collie in tow, I tried in vain to escape from both the cold wind and the chills from my emotional sadness that this environment had now forced me to focus thereon. None of these burly aged oaks felt despair nor sadness with my visit, as they have witnessed my soul in so many forms over the last 15 years of visiting this park. They had seen me married once to others, carrying my new born children, walking this same soil with other dogs, families, and girlfriends. At each of those moments in time, everything seemed so certain, so permanent, but alas --- nothing ever lasted.

Vividly recounting the past and the memories that this groundhog moment recreated in my mind stopped me in my tracks. I paused and saw myself from above the large canopy of trees like a google satellite photo turned personal, deeply personal. I recounted from aged memories the steps that I must have taken with others and it mapped out trails walking in every direction in my mind, all eventually leading to nowhere, I surmised. With more resolution and detail than ever imagined, I found myself believing that this life is all individual moments. They are all transient, they are all but temporary and they all need to be cherished.

I continued to walked deeper between the large row of trees aligned like soldiers shrouding my walk with their extended swords, albeit sturdy limbs above my head. When will I be at peace, when will I understand the message enough to not fall victim again to this parade? When will I return and not feel unfulfilled and alone? I stopped and inquired to myself, feeling slightly better than no one else was around to witness my delusional behavior, but smiling knowing that those who really knew me would truly expect nothing less...

Why was I so hard to believe in and why was I never valuable enough to hold onto to?
I continue to walk with this feeling of unimportance regardless of the proverbial skins of the walls of my life. It is not pity I feel, just a sense of solitude that I enjoy most of the time, just occasionally, I find myself questioning the rationale for it to exist. Comforted, I know that this was the plan all along. Without this, my soul would have never continued to grow, continued to strengthen itself in the midst of our epicurean culture. I would have lost my touch not only with myself, but upon my walk with God.

I wouldn't call myself godly, at least in the traditional sense of this word. However, He knows how much I care, how often I call upon His wisdom, and that is more than enough for my soul to ever reveal. Turning away from the water's edge, the wind strikes me hard and bitterly upon my face as I trudge back towards my vehicle. I know I am getting closer to understanding my destiny and the purpose of this penance that I have felt for so long. Pausing for a moment, my dog instinctly sits. Reaching out my hand, I stroke the beautiful long coat of my dog, she smiles, and like a sled-dog knows it is time to return home. She pulls hard knowing the message of this moment has been received...

It is now up to me to heed its intention or simply continue to return unchanged.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guesswork Garage....

"Stand back, she is about to rumble to life...", now where have I heard that before I pondered to myself...

Two tired old men in their late 60s, disheveled and unpolished as the garage that they stand inside of, peer through the open hood cowling intently at a 1938 Ford flathead engine. The engine itself oil-stained with time and unfazed at their enthusiasm, nor interested in awakening from its 70 year old nap, rests quietly. Returning to their chairs, the only work getting done now is from their rambling vocal cords, as I slowly grow impatient with their sense of urgency & relentless banter. While the men jeer each other with silly stories of their youth and hot-rod glory days, I smile. Knowing only a fraction of truth lace either book of their collective history, I wonder why I am still here paying to have my truck repaired by these Neanderthals.

Grabbing another wrench one of the men approaches my truck once more, perhaps believing that metal on metal contact is now what will propel this engine to start and finally relinquish its restful slumber. I am unconvinced, but take a step back to avoid any further casualties in this dramatic enclave, that they call a repair shop. Tap it right there, one exclaims. Thinking out loud, with a silent but bitter diatribe, I put on my engineering hat and wonder how tapping a chunk of iron will somehow produce internal combustion. I wonder, sarcastically if this is just a modern bit of cavemen theory --- eliminate all ideas, perhaps we will stumble upon how that other tribe produced F-I-R-E. I grin, trying to hide my amusement from the immediate audience armed with large, heavy tools, but still maintain my cheerful disposition outwardly.

The engine doesn't start. Not a whimper, nor a rattle or even a lowly grunt emanates from the old block of metal. "Must be a dirty carb..", I hear from a distance. This next idea pounces into the cage of uncertainty, just as recklessly as the last, but at this point they must be getting closer, as their chances for eliminating all other options is optimistically reduced. As the carburator housing is removed from top of the engine, its innards are examined carefully and deliberately by one of the men, this one I have named Ink in my head, due to his abundance of tattoo work, albeit most appear amatuer carvings at best. I sigh, believing this intense investigation may produce meaningful dividends to our immediate struggle, but still remain unimpressed.

I observe Ink carrying the carburator assembly to the bench with great concern and almost grave medical preservation. I ponder if this organ transplant or detailed cleaning will finally restore life to my tired engine. As chemicals spray off of the parts in nearly every direction, the mist permeates the otherwise damp but non-aromatic garage. Leaning down, I witness Ink reaching for a dirty shop towel and wonder the logic in drying a part with a cloth containing the same amount of grease that you just removed from the part itself. I shake my head in mild disbelief, but at this point I remind myself to displace logic. In fact, I think an appropriate signage to the entrance to this debacling shelter, would be "ELIMINATE ALL LOGIC BEFORE ENTERING, WE CHOOSE GUESSWORK" --- that is it. The "GUESSWORK GARAGE", man I am good. I smile, nearly breaking into a complete chuckle. My mind returns from my stand-up comedy act, back to the somber present.

While off in my own mind, appearently the carburator assembly has already been positioned back atop its meaningful perch above the engine. As Dopey, the slightly older dazed repairman, who seems to enjoy inhaling engine fumes a bit too much, enters the driver's door, I pray secretly for a miracle. I listen intently, even able to discern the metal clankering of the keys nearing the ignition just above the low volume of the continuous shop radio, now filtered out of my mind permanently. Click, the key slides into position. Clunk, the ignition engaged. Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrl, the engine slowly breathes....or spins, or something magical happens. I am more excited than ever, like witnessing a mother giving birth, I jump forward & yell "PUSH" or "START" outloud. I am not sure what exactly I said, but I am unconcered at this juncture. I just want the engine to start. The tired old engine finally relents and the room fills with smoke simultaneously with a low but consistent rumble. A beautiful rumbling of timed combustion. It is running.

As I witness Ink and Dopey giving each other High Fives and smiling, I relax and realize that we have finally achieved success. There is something inherently sacred and primal about witnessing an engine come to life. All men, even the most mechanically uninclined are incapable of becoming intranced by its beckoning.
Like a mystical siren, it draws you near and somehow makes you feel as accomplished as the men who designed, created and built the engine itself. It is a force that is unexplained, but totally real in its existence. I peer over to the two men, and smile glowingly, showing appreciation in spite of my frustration with the process.

As I turn my head to ensure my wallet is still in my pocket, Ink reaches in and turns the key off. I shudder for a moment, as I hear the engine draw down to a stop.
Silence enters once again, but I am content now for some unexplained reason. Reaching down, I caress the side of the slightly warm, faded red engine cowling. I speak silently to my truck and assure it will be a good ride going forward for both of us.

"She is all yours", Ink offers with a proudful smile. Yeah, after I pay for your professional services, I think to myself. "I hope I am not paying by the hour", I announce sarcastically with a grin. Alas, no further time for deliberation, I am content and ready to depart with my dear Ford truck.

I can now attest that even in the Guesswork Garage, once in a while they guess right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Costume Department

Excerpt from one of my Dramatic Narratives

I cannot define the method of my ways, nor of the moments that truly define the reasons for my existence. The weight of the past and the burden of emotions that I cannot shake continue even at this age to define my walk. Emotionally I feel spent, torn away from the realty of the present, like a stage performance over-played and undersold, I walk through each day defining the expectations of others only to continually sacrifice the time that I have left for those who could barely discern that I was wearing a costume at all. I cannot shake the moments where I truly felt alive and embraced by those who really tried to know me, tried to understand the mysteries of the man behind the madness that each day brings forth. There were those who held onto me with a true heart of compassion and love, those days are just not with me any longer. Their fingerprints long lifted from the crime scene of my life.

For those who tried to bear the brunt of my sadness and revelled in the joy of my lost soul buried in the short-lived happiness that was my own thoughts, I thank you.
I cannot erase the images of your face away from the constant knowledge that I was as close to keeping you near as I ever was in releasing you to the world. I knew what cards I needed to play, I just could not afford to cash in your soul in exchange for my petty happiness. I have never been good at maintaining the moment, nor watering the gardens of souls that I know in the end I will either drive away to protect or tragically attempt to retain for my own disparity.

Perhaps, I know, secretly, that I am not worth the attention, nor the sacrifice. I adore the darkness, always believing that the truth lives in that place. For when the dawn breaks, the sun will continually shadow the reality of life and perhaps bring enlightenment to areas that condemn that enhancement of character. We have all been taught that light brings truth, but the harshness of its power can indeed overshadow the beauty, simplicity and even altruistic nature of life itself. Seeing things for what they are, being allowed to self-illuminate --- that is how you are able to ever shine.

I am not sure when I last believed in myself and the promise that I could shake the struggles of holding onto something that continues to cloud my steps. Like a strange, but living apparition --- I am confused and dismayed that I am still here haunting myself in this house of emptiness and greed. There must be a calling, my own personal Paul Revere being summoned with my orders, my commandments? I sit here from a different era, an old soul trying to hit replay in a world that has long admonished the history of its own past, much less the simplicity of my message.

For now, I must continue to push onward. I hear the director calling, "Performance begins in 5" --- Exiting stage left, I head to the costume department. Content at least in this moment, that this show is not over, my final performance still undone...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The only constant is what? (My last tribute to Whitney Bank)

December 22nd, 2010 - an innocent date of record by most all accounts. However, this arbitrary day would initiate the genesis of another unforeseen chapter in my personal and professional life. It was on this date, that is was revealed that my employer, Whitney National Bank, would be sold to another company. Shocking is far too tepid of a description of the impact of this announcement.

Spanning its 130 year legacy, Whitney National Bank was the last known survivor of the grand old New Orleans based banking institutions. It was the bank that my great-grandfather conducted his financial business. It was the monolithic empire that both my own grandmother and mother had been duly employed during the early & mid 20th century. It was the imposing marble fortress of a structure that I had visited as a child with my grandmother to perform her weekly deposits after traversing the St. Charles streetcar line from uptown New Orleans.

It was everything to a true New Orleanian, it was living history in every contrived sense of the word.

Alas, time waits for no man. You can't flip your hourglass when it runs out of sand.
You either change with the reality of the day or you become a casualty of its destiny.
Change is difficult and some say the only constant in life. I am not sure if I truly have embraced this altruistic motto with open arms or if I am simple holding the line through coercion and self-preservation.

I can only hope that I can continue to be called upon to make a difference for the new company. I can only hope that I can execute my leadership endeavors with the same innate passion, pride and zeal that I had while working for Whitney Bank. I know change is constant and unavoidable, but it is doesn't mean that it is calming nor does it bring much personal solace.

Change opens up new doors, while forcing you to gaze upon a new, unexplored path. A path that is not comforting, at least at first, because it is dark, unknown and led by a cavalry that is completely foreign.

I believe the only constant is not change itself, but the opportunity to accept that change is unavoidable. Like nature itself, change is perfect; neither good nor bad. It is how we grow to accept or deny the reality of change that ultimately is the only constant we have...

Here's to the future and a nod to the past....
RIP - Whitney National Bank (October 26, 1883 - June 4th, 2011)


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Needing Solace....

Wait, hold that shot. Just hold it. Freeze time, I am not ready to start.

As I pick myself up from the starting position on the dusty cinder track, I pretend to stretch out the time needed to regain my desire to continue as I outwardly exercise my poised frame. I just cannot get my mind and spirit engaged into the present. I cannot let this race begin, I cannot dare to hear that starter's gun explode beside my head. Not just yet.

Time lapses, but unsure of what my immediate future holds, I remain paralyzed in the moment. However, will this moment end or will the stress of my current life continue to unravel my confidence, desire & ability to continue?

As I retreat from the track, I stop. Placing my nervous hand upon my forehead, I check to even judge the reality of this event, the existence of my own body here in this moment. I feel tired, moody & generally unhappy. I ask myself "How could this be?", I have no reason to feel this way. I have no rationale for this moment of weakness nor the understanding of its meaning.

I am like a tree that is green with life on its leaves because the mechanisms of life itself never fail. Nature is perfectly, imperfect. However, I am cold within my own trunk, it is a feeling that I need to understand, quickly...

Walking to my truck, I dare not glance back. I cannot race today. I cannot support the weight of the past. I am just not ready for this. I remove the tops to my Jeep and gracefully pause in a meditative pose, seemingly asking my spirit to figure out what it needs. With the tops removed, I enter and look upward. I know I need the solace that only being with nature can bring.

The engine starts as I glance over to the clock. It reads

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building with my Brothers


I had an amazing experience this past weekend working with both of my brothers for the first time in a very long time, probably since I was very young. As anyone would expect, we work like guys with every one of us a slight bit unique in our own mind, but in perfect harmony focused on getting the proverbial job done. I wouldn't trade the time I spent with either of them this past weekend. In retrospect, it was a tremendously rewarding and humbling experience. I didn't realize how much I missed the comraderie that I felt with my siblings as an adult. I tend to make few lasting relationships due partially to my available time and wholly to my abhorrence to fake people.

As crazy as this sounds, this weekend was one of my best life experiences, and it reminds me of the singular and paramount importance of family. Growing up in a troubled and abusive household, that moral was not something that was easily remembered.

Nothing better than a little bit of sweat, cussing & beers with your brothers.
Cheers to both of you. I love you both dearly.

"You can be my wingman, anytime..."

-Aviator Andy
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

GE Whiz Fan - Completed! (PART II)


I had some time today after returning from the Saints/Bucs fiasco, so I decided to finish my 1921 GE Whiz Oscillation fan. This is more of a preservation project rather than a complete restoration in my opinion.

I was able to preserve most of the original GE factory dark green paint.
I disassembled everything, cleaning all parts & components. I polished out the rotor, cage & blades to a mirror finish. I then replaced all electrical & re-oiled the wicks.
After a few coats of polish on the paint, it is looking very clean & fresh.

It works just great. Not bad for being about 90 years old!

I am still learning and consider myself to be an amateur in training, but I do enjoy the adventure and the ability to renew the past.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

The "Whizard" Enters --- 2011

Happy New Year!

I spent some time today cleaning my antique work bench and re-organizing all of my tools. I decided to pull my first victim for 2011 off of the floor and onto the magical stage of amateur restoration! This is a 1921 GE WHIZ 10" Table Fan.

I have decided to follow this restoration through a multitude of steps rather than simply "before and after" --- In case, any of you thought good ole' Rumpelstiltskin was being hired to run the ole' polishing machine after midnight or anything. :)

Here is the solemn state (Notice the morgue-like coldness of the non-working fan)



I will keep updating to show my progress. It is still amateur work for now, but I really do enjoy bringing beauty back to life. It is an amazing passion to see something old transformed back into its former glory by your own hands.