Saturday, May 18, 2019

Lunch with an old friend, plus a little Spring

Backyard pomegranate flowers

The last few years I've spent in a bit of a Walter Mitty haze. With the death of my older brother and the rise of divisiveness and hatred in our country, I've been looking for a place to hide from a lot of realities I don't want to face. But hiding hasn't made any of them go away. I can't hide from stress, but I've been doing my darnedest to try to hide away and take some time to heal.

So I've worked hard to keep the laundry and dishes caught up while dreaming of cleaning the garage and riding bicycle street trials. What I've learned is pretty small. It's hard to save the world when you can't keep up with the laundry.

This blog has suffered too. What was a labor of love has become a harbor for indecision, a belief that my beliefs aren't worth writing. The number of unfinished drafts has piled up while the blog sits dormant.

But most days I see inspiration: eco-friendly advancements, better ways of doing things, ways to live lighter and friendlier. I start writing about them, but the words fizzle out. The drafts pile up.

This week I had lunch with an old friend. While getting caught up, I recognized in her a lot of the same things I've been wrestling. She is a Christian who struggles with the actions and ideas of other Christians who seem hell-bent on protecting themselves at the cost of all who are different or inconvenient. She's also asking big questions: What's next? Can I be doing something more worthwhile? Can I take a week-long break and wake up with some enlightenment? 

And I have to say, knowing she's in that same place is both sad and very comforting.

Okay, I'll wrap this one up - I need to go home and start some laundry, but I have to say, life is looking better. Maybe it's the spring season and all the blooming flowers and fascinating birds and bugs. Maybe it's the weather more conducive to riding and walking and spending time outside. Maybe it's the knowledge that I am surrounded by good people fighting the same fight and struggling with the same burdens.

May God bless and keep you, may you know a little peace, and may you be comforted and be a comfort.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ride to Work Week & Day, National Bike Month, the National Bike Challenge, and...Encouragement

Tomorrow, May 17, is National Bike to Work Day.

There hasn't been a lot of time for blogging or riding lately, but I'm doing both as I can. I love it when the National Bike _________ rolls around. It's just one more motivation to suck it up and ride (almost) every day. I'm thankful for the National Bike Challenge - it's the dare I needed five years back to get started commuting by bike. I can't believe I was actually scared to attempt it. Nowadays I'm scared of the impacts of not riding.

I've been commuting to work on the e-bike and bombing about on the klunker. And the winter funk is melting away nicely.

E-bike throwin' shade on this morning's commute

So I wanted to offer you a bit of encouragement - get out and ride, snagit! Get off the couch and ride! Put down the phone and ride! Quit fretting over the news and ride! Quit snacking on Dorito's and ride! Stop biting your fingernails and ride! Stop pouting and pedal! Stop whining and wheelie!

Modern life is not easy. It's nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing, and downright stressful, but study after study tells us that moderate activity and time spent outside are powerful tools in relieving stress, improving health, and pushing depression back.

HuffKlunk in the 'Hood - peace!

So, if you're like I was, get over your objections and ride. Ride around the block once a day, or ride to someplace nearby that you really like - a park, a friend's house, or Holly Hop (ice cream is a powerful motivator for me). Or do something practical - ride to the grocery store, to work, or to run an errand. 

It ain't much, but May ain't over yet!

Stick with it for a week.

See, I've got stats and badges, britches!

If you absolutely hate it, stop. Go try something else.

But if you find yourself enjoying it or seeing some positive benefits, keep at it. The more I ride, the better I feel. And it's amazing what that has done for my outlook when facing tumultuous times.

Consider yourself encouraged! Wishing all of y'all the best!

PS. Here's some previous Mesquite Hugger encouragement:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Just a muddy old hole in the ground

Yesterday morning found me in a stunning West Texas canyon by myself meditating on the beauty of creation and...just kidding!

You knew there had to be a gratuitous mesquite shot or two.

Yesterday morning found me in Caprock Canyons State Park with about sixty fifth graders, a handful of adults, and a very well-informed park ranger.

Breathtaking place

Ranger talk

I like big bugs and bigger cacti!

Red mud and gypsum

The mud martens were in a nest-building frenzy.

When we first arrived, one young lady looked at the vista and said, "I feel at home here."

Amen, Naomi! Me too!

May you find yourself in awe of a natural place soon, and may you be well!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day 2019 - A few simple suggestions

Spring, Resurrection, Earth Day

It's a great season for new beginnings.

Nothing fancy here, but I want to offer a few areas where you can change for the better and encourage others to do the same.

Burn less gas:

My favorite way to do this is to ride a bike, but there are a lot of ways to cut back on your consumption: carpool, plan your routes and trips better, drive less aggressively, walk more, shop or eat closer to home, take your lunch to work, maintain your vehicle better, use public transportation. As much as I love the prospect of cars that don't burn gas, you don't have to buy a new Leaf to turn over a new leaf.

Choose re-usable over disposable:

cups, bags, utensils, jars, straws, handkerchiefs, mason jars, kitchen rags, napkins

Show some love to a natural place:

My hope for this evening is to head to my favorite local wild place with the stuff needed to pick up trash, recyclables, and manmade stuff that just doesn't belong in a wild place. It's been a breeze-trashy winter and it's time to undo some of the damage.

Use less plastic:

There're lots of ways to go about this: re-usables (mentioned above), being more conscious of packaging when you're buying groceries, invest in quality utensils/dishes that will last longer than plastic, choose restaurants that serve in real dishes and cups; say no to straws, lids, and single-use plasticware.

Bring home less crap:

Chotchkies, swag, knick-knacks, collectables, figurines, novelties, promotional items - all that useless stuff that ends up on a shelf, in a drawer, or in the garbage - think before you bring it home. Less stuff means less stuff to worry with!

Seek out simpler recreation:

A friend was telling me yesterday about some birds nesting in his family's backyard, and how it's transformed his time with his wife - every chance they get they're out in the backyard with binoculars. Last night, our family went for a bike ride followed by a stroll with the dogs. Yes, I admit that I'm getting old and boring, but we find more and more time that requires little in the way of earth-harming resources and supplies us with a great deal more health and joy.

To be fair, if you do everything on this list, you will make very little contribution to making the world a heathier place, but you will help in creating momentum, and if you share your successes, you'll encourage others.

If you want to make a bigger impact:

Encourage others to live cleaner, support organizations that work for bigger change, and encourage your local politicians to vote and live cleaner. Here are a few organizations to check out if you're looking for a place to start.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Saturday Ramble: the Week

We had rain this week, thank the Lord! Lubbock was drying up and desperately needed the moisture, but it came with high winds and even a few tornadoes in the area. Lots of damage. Many people will be cutting and hauling branches, repairing fences, and figuring out how to fix things or who to call. But the rain was sure nice.

 Yesterday I saw a Model 3 and a Chevy Volt, but...

...the most exciting green car I saw was... older Prius with a DIY solar panel setup. Intriguing. Was it charging the traction pack? The 12 volt accessory battery? Something else? DIY green ingenuity always gets the juices flowing.

No progress on the Huffy klunker this week, but lots of dreaming.

The most exciting cargo bike news this week was the arrival (in my awareness) of the new Mongoose Envoy cargo bike. It comes in at half the price (or less) of a base model Yuba Mundo. Is this the birth of the accessible cargo bike for the masses or just a serious threat to the small manufacturers who've been carrying the torch so long?

In regional news, I was very excited to see an Electrek post about our neighbors to the west:

You go, New Mexico! (Click here for article) Woohoo!

Here in Lubbock, the steadily increasing stream of pedestrian and bullet-based deaths continues. More painful statistics and meaningless death.

At our house, on the other hand, our household grew by one and we are thrilled!

May you be blessed and encouraged, and may we find better paths!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Palo Duro Canyon, January 31

I had the extreme good fortune to spend about 90 minutes with my wife in Palo Duro Canyon at the end of January. We had picked up a 575 pizza in Amarillo and had a picnic and a short walk on the canyon floor.

Red, muddy water was flowing fast in the stream. We saw a robin, two cardinals, some iridescent olive-colored wrens, and a few gregarious black and orange birds. It was sixty-five degrees and there was almost no breeze.

You know me - I loved it and started scheming:
solar powered electric conversion

We saw a few other hikers, a mountain biker, and a tangerine microbus with a dog riding shotgun. It was a great time at a great place, and my wife's sun-kissed smile made it all the better.

I hope you are all fortunate enough to find yourself in such a wonderful situation soon. I know that I sure felt better afterward.

Another inspiring part of Palo Duro is getting to see all of the structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930's.

Learn more from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Learn more from Wikipedia

 It's nice to think of a time when we worked together to solve our common problems, protect natural spaces, and create something beautiful to share with future generations.

May we know beauty and hope while working to create more of both.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A few milestones on the journey

[Just a warning, this post has nothing more than me rambling and being whiny.]

At twenty-one I learned that the journey is more important than the destination. I was a broke moron graduating college and feeling the restlessness of a new post-graduate life. So I hopped in my 1964 Beetle and headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico. And it was a great drive into some stark and beautiful country.

When I arrived in Santa Fe. I found lots of beauty and wonders, but mostly I found my restlessness and loneliness magnified. I don't know if I've ever felt emptier. Before leaving there, I wrote the line Motion is the only virtue left to August. Heading back to Lubbock at 80 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour car was a tremendous relief.

A decade ago, I met a newborn. A few months later my mother adopted him. That's how I ended up with a little brother forty years my junior.

As he's grown up, it becomes more and more obvious that his brain views the world differently than most of us. He has autism (and a handful of things that go hand in hand with that diagnosis.) He is intellectually brilliant, hyperactive, and seems to view all people as one-dimensional. In layman's terms, he's an unaware genius and we are paper dolls in his world.

Watching him grow up has made me question most (if not all) of my beliefs. As he grows older, his needs eclipse the needs of those around him. As we've sought help for him, we've learned that Texas is one of the worst states in our country for kids needing mental health care. At this time we are desperately seeking a better life for him and finding little hope.

Trying to create a better life for him has eclipsed a lot of who I normally aspire to be.

About six years ago, this blog was born. And it was a shocking thing for me. I grew up a gearhead in a West Texas oilfield town. I grew up loving all things that required wheels and gasoline. So, the leap from that to a guy who had come to realize that we were selfishly destroying life on earth so that we could have styrofoam convenience and better parking, well, let's just say it was a huge reversal. But pursuing a cleaner and (hopefully) less selfish life and encouraging others to do the same has always felt right. I have loved being the Mesquite Hugger, but there's been little time for that lately and time devoted to it means sacrifice in more important areas, so there's not much to see here.

A little less than two decades ago, I fell in love with a wonderful woman and came to know Christ. In Jesus, I find a savior and a role model. In Jesus I find a reason to care for all people and all life. In Jesus I find a call to non-selfish, non-judgmental stewardship. In striving to be Christ-like I find a destination worthy of a journey. I have also found a lot of generous-hearted people striving for the same.

[All the while, I struggle with being labeled a "Christian" when there are so many prominent Christians espousing judgmentalism, elitism, and condemnation. Ugh!]

At the end of the day, I thank you for taking time to read this blog. I hope that whatever roles you find yourself in, you can find find joy in seeking better for all.

May your destination be more worthwhile than your journey.