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Thread: The Soul's Midnight

  1. #51
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    maybe it's the ash tree

    It could be the ash tree outside my bedroom window. It's a cool night and Lanny (that's my wife's name, you know, Lanny, since I've never actually mentioned that) has the windows open. Our whole north bedroom wall is windows, and young ash trees growing too close to the house. I keep them pruned small, because we like the foliage of a grove of tiny ash trees right there in the windows. There's a breeze and the leaves have turned yellow in places. It's fall, you know. Rained all weekend till this afternoon. I took the littler kids skateboarding over at the elementary school. Neighbor's kid shooting hoops there, talked for a few. Got a can of Coke from the vending machine on the way home. It feels like autumn today, so we made grilled cheese for dinner. I helped my freshman daughter Evie with her geography homework (can I help label a drainage basin on this diagram my HELL do I not manage part of the Upper Jordan Watershed?), read to the little kids and I was lying in my bed listening to the breeze in the yellowing ash leaves and watching a candle ticker on the dresser. I could hear a young couple talking at the corner about nothing and everything. Hardcastles, walking their dog. They're Lanny and me - 15 year ago. So I had my hand on my wife's bare shoulder while she slept there in the cool room but something brings me out here to the kitchen to type - what is it? I don't know. Maybe I think I have it too easy. Maybe I should do more with the life I've been given, maybe I'm worried that I failed my oldest daughter while I watch her struggling through this year, sort of without an anchor. Maybe I gave her too much freedom and neo-hippy advice instead of discipline and a college fund to squander. I don't know, the reality is that every day I just do what has to be done that day. Emotionally, mentally - I live hand to mouth. Dave Ramsey has no advice for that. There are no 401k loans for the soul. You only have what you have. So tonight, I'll probably go back to bed - back to the bare shoulder and the cool room and still-dark fireplace there and enjoy that even with the rain we've still got the fall to enjoy before hard winter gets here. Maybe I can fall asleep in the scent of undeservedly beautiful leaves and candles, and I can just be happy that tonight everything is OK. Or maybe I won't - but to see and feel and be awake all night in the autumn is alright with me. It's probably all due to the ash tree out there in the dark.

    Good night, cyburbia. Get some sleep.

    - ursus
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  2. #52
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    It could be the ash tree outside my bedroom window. It's a cool night and Lanny (that's my wife's name, you know, Lanny, since I've never actually mentioned that) has the windows open. Our whole north bedroom wall is windows, and young ash trees growing too close to the house. I keep them pruned small, because we like the foliage of a grove of tiny ash trees right there in the windows. There's a breeze and the leaves have turned yellow in places. It's fall, you know. Rained all weekend till this afternoon. I took the littler kids skateboarding over at the elementary school. Neighbor's kid shooting hoops there, talked for a few. Got a can of Coke from the vending machine on the way home. It feels like autumn today, so we made grilled cheese for dinner. I helped my freshman daughter Evie with her geography homework (can I help label a drainage basin on this diagram my HELL do I not manage part of the Upper Jordan Watershed?), read to the little kids and I was lying in my bed listening to the breeze in the yellowing ash leaves and watching a candle ticker on the dresser. I could hear a young couple talking at the corner about nothing and everything. Hardcastles, walking their dog. They're Lanny and me - 15 year ago. So I had my hand on my wife's bare shoulder while she slept there in the cool room but something brings me out here to the kitchen to type - what is it? I don't know. Maybe I think I have it too easy. Maybe I should do more with the life I've been given, maybe I'm worried that I failed my oldest daughter while I watch her struggling through this year, sort of without an anchor. Maybe I gave her too much freedom and neo-hippy advice instead of discipline and a college fund to squander. I don't know, the reality is that every day I just do what has to be done that day. Emotionally, mentally - I live hand to mouth. Dave Ramsey has no advice for that. There are no 401k loans for the soul. You only have what you have. So tonight, I'll probably go back to bed - back to the bare shoulder and the cool room and still-dark fireplace there and enjoy that even with the rain we've still got the fall to enjoy before hard winter gets here. Maybe I can fall asleep in the scent of undeservedly beautiful leaves and candles, and I can just be happy that tonight everything is OK. Or maybe I won't - but to see and feel and be awake all night in the autumn is alright with me. It's probably all due to the ash tree out there in the dark.

    Good night, cyburbia. Get some sleep.

    - ursus
    Well written little buddy. You should consider doing more writing, as in a short story, flash fiction or novel.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  3. #53
    Cyburbian
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    I didn't get to do anything I wanted to do yesterday. Instead, I watched two old sisters walk together, heads and shoulders touching, and happy to be in the same place. From behind, it's hard to tell one from the other, and from behind, they aren't Mom or Aunt, but two sisters who aren't separated by distance. I heard people reminisce and express thanks, saying that while they'd been through rough times, they wouldn't change a thing. I witnessed how my uncle, who was a successful businessman, now tends to menial household chores in order to give his wife the rest she earned and deserves. It's a quiet and strong statement of his love and appreciation of a woman who made a warm and beautiful home for him and raised their children. I listened to another old woman talk about missing her husband and how lonely she is, and what a wonderful life they shared. I took a tour of homes and neighborhoods where we all lived at one time, and listened to cousins talk about growing up together almost as close as siblings. I saw my normally quiet and reserved mother open up and show affection to these two women who are such a part of who she was, and who she is. This morning, while it's still dark and while I can't sleep, I'm kind of sad that my life hasn't taken the path I expected, although I, too, can say that I really have no regrets.

  4. #54
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    I wake around 3:00 am for no apparent reason. Then I spend the next hour trying to fall back asleep. part of me says "Since you're awake get up and do something around the house," but I do need to fall back asleep. I just want to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  5. #55
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planit View post
    I wake around 3:00 am for no apparent reason. Then I spend the next hour trying to fall back asleep. part of me says "Since you're awake get up and do something around the house," but I do need to fall back asleep. I just want to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    I feel your pain.
    This happens too frequently to me.
    Not happy about it.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  6. #56
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    I woke up at 4:00 am this morning. I couldn't stop thinking about the two staff reports that are due tomorrow, despite the fact that they were vetted through a coworker and our attourney and that they were updated. I got up and did some work on the internet before going back to bed an hour later. I later dreamed that I was at a Planning Commission meeting but I was sitting with the people in the back of the audience with an arm load of documents and I couldn't get to the Planning Commission to give my report.

    Seriously, stuff like this hasn't happened to me in years and I've only been on this job for four weeks! What do I have to look forward to now?
    Back home just in time for hockey season!

  7. #57
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    working late on a grant that has to be postmarked tomorrow so I am here for a while...


  8. #58
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    I lost my dad on Sunday night. He'd come home and gone onto hospice, but we thought it would be a few more months. Monday night my kids and I helped the durable goods provider set up his hospital bed, Sunday night he was gone and tomorrow we will bury him.

    I have, over the course of the last half an hour, typed and deleted no fewer than 10 paragraphs here about my dad, our relationship, the things I learned from him that I cherish, etc. The words keep coming and coming and then I look at them and hate them, because they don't seem to say what I want to say so I delete them...Tomorrow, I have to deliver a eulogy of sorts. If this post is any indication how the writing process is going to go I'm in big trouble and will be shooting from the hip. I was probably going to do that anyway. How do you sum up somebody's life? What they meant to you? It can't be done. How do I talk about what it meant to me to drive up the street and see his garage door up and know that HE was in there, fiddling around with something? To know that there was a drawer in there with a bunch of his father's craftsman tie bars in it? To know that his ugly cowboy hat was hanging on a peg in there? The pencil sharpener for hell's sake? How do I explain how I loved that he had a Stanley-Bostich pencil sharpener mounted on his work bench like it was a damn third grade classroom out there? I want to wrap his ugly jacket around me and smell the sawdust and Gold Bond. I want to feel his fingers holding my hand, feel that silver dollar ring he'd pounded out and wore, and have him squeeze my hand and tell me I'm a better man than I think I am. I want to go up there and see him sitting with his books, reading way too late into the night. I want him to tell me that I should carry a pocket knife with me because I never know when I'll need it. I want to be lectured about paying things on time, about going to work to set a good example. I want to see him make his way to the fence to talk to the young couple that moved in next door and tell them it looks like their son's growing up to be a "big bastard" of a kid and mean it as a compliment. I want to watch him pick an apricot just to throw it at a starling. I want to see if he's still stashing quarters in a sock in his top drawer (bet he is). I just want him back, I guess. And I can't have him back. And I know that.

    I'm going to miss him for the rest of my life, and I'm probably going to foul up his eulogy tomorrow morning. Wish me luck, Cyburbia, and Dad, smile down on Lincoln County where you were born. We've got it on your headstone, just like we said. Man says it'll be ready soon enough. And for those of you who wondered - as Dad did - if they still made pine boxes to be buried in like a man....they do. Wish granted, old man. Wish granted.

    -ursus
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  9. #59
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    I lost my dad on Sunday night. He'd come home and gone onto hospice, but we thought it would be a few more months. Monday night my kids and I helped the durable goods provider set up his hospital bed, Sunday night he was gone and tomorrow we will bury him.

    My condolences on the the loss of your father.


    With just a tiny bit of editing here and there, this beautiful and candid passage reads just like the right eulogy.
    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    I have, over the course of the last half an hour, typed and deleted no fewer than 10 paragraphs here about my dad, our relationship, the things I learned from him that I cherish... How do you sum up somebody's life? What they meant to you? It can't be done. How do I talk about what it meant to me to drive up the street and see his garage door up and know that HE was in there, fiddling around with something? To know that there was a drawer in there with a bunch of his father's craftsman tie bars in it? To know that his ugly cowboy hat was hanging on a peg in there? How do I explain how I loved that he had a Stanley-Bostich pencil sharpener mounted on his work bench like it was a damn third grade classroom out there? I want to wrap his ugly jacket around me and smell the sawdust and Gold Bond. I want to feel his fingers holding my hand, feel that silver dollar ring he'd pounded out and wore, and have him squeeze my hand and tell me I'm a better man than I think I am. I want to go up there and see him sitting with his books, reading way too late into the night. I want him to tell me that I should carry a pocket knife with me because I never know when I'll need it. I want to be lectured about paying things on time, about going to work to set a good example. I want to see him make his way to the fence to talk to the young couple that moved in next door and tell them it looks like their son's growing up to be a "big bastard" of a kid and mean it as a compliment. I want to watch him pick an apricot just to throw it at...... a starling I want to see if he's still stashing quarters in a sock in his top drawer (bet he is). I just want him back, I guess. And I can't have him back. And I know that.

    I'm going to miss him for the rest of my life..... Dad, smile down on Lincoln County where you were born. We've got it on your headstone, just like we said. Man says it'll be ready soon enough. And for those of you who wondered - as Dad did - if they still made pine boxes to be buried in like a man....they do. Wish granted, old man. Wish granted.
    Good luck, ursus, on delivering this beautiful piece that people are sure to cherish.

  10. #60
    Cyburbian
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    Ursus, my friend, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your heartfelt words touched me.

    Keep the jacket that has your dad's essence close to you.... I'll say a prayer for you and your dad.

  11. #61
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Sorry to hear a good man is moving on. It's hard to explain how the little things are what's important.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  12. #62
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    ursus
    Sorry for your loss. I have experienced what you are feeling.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  13. #63
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Sorry for you and your family's loss. What you wrote was very moving because you wrote from your heart.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  14. #64
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Ursus, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is never easy. Know that we're here for you. Sounds like you've got a good start on the eulogy. Have faith the right words will somehow come.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  15. #65
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Sorry to read about your loss, Ursus. I have tears in my eyes reading what you did put out there for us. He sounds like a great dad.

    We will have both of you in our thoughts.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  16. #66
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    So sorry, ursus. It's one of the toughest times of life.

  17. #67
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    My deepest condolences to you and your family, ursus. We share your pain.

  18. #68
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    You guys, thanks for all your words and thoughts and prayers. You're good people. Good, good people, and it means the world to me to know you care. Big hugs out to all of you.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  19. #69
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    You guys, thanks for all your words and thoughts and prayers. You're good people. Good, good people, and it means the world to me to know you care. Big hugs out to all of you.
    ursus, I hope that everything went well. I am sure your heart and emotion were felt. Sorry for your great loss.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  20. #70
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Ursus,

    I am late in getting to it, but my condolences to you and your family. Losing a parent is hard. We all eventually have to go through it once or twice. The loss never goes away, but time soothes the pain and then you have only the good memories. I miss my Mom, but now I don't remember her passing so much as I remember how she packed a great Christmas stocking even when I was a grown man and how she could peel and eat crawfish and match you crawfish to crawfish.And when I open a letter I use her souvenir pocket knife and think about her.

    It sounds like Lincoln County, WY is a better place now because there rests a good man.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  21. #71
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    I'm so sorry to hear about your father, Ursus, my thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family, especially through the holidays.

  22. #72
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    ursus, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  23. #73
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    I know you're out there

    I know you're out there, fellow insomniacs. You're watching TV or reading. Some of you are staring out windows at dark streets. Some of you are walking quietly, around the block, maybe just around the house. It comforts me to know that you're there, even though I can't see anybody. I know there's nothing but dark and air out there, and people living their lives outside of mine. I remember very clearly when I realized that people had lives outside of mine. I was walking home from my friend Ricky Hadden's house, two streets over. I'd stopped there after school to hang around and I was walking home along Orchard Drive (street that connected ours, if you've ever wanted to google map my neighborhood ). I was watching the cars coming toward me. It was this time of year. Not dark yet, but not light anymore and grey, grey grey. I locked eyes with a fat man driving a van and he saw me but didn't really see me and I realized he was thinking about something. Something important maybe. He seemed preoccupied and I wondered what it was that he was thinking about and BAM: the floodgates opened. I realized in that moment that there were all of these people whose lives had NOTHING to do with mine, but who had very real problems and thoughts and memories and plans. It was startling. I felt small. I felt overwhelmed. But I was transfixed at the same time....and I've been transfixed ever since.

    So when I tell you that I'm comforted to know that you're out there, know that I really am. I wonder about you. Not just the stuff that you tell. I wonder about all the stuff you don't tell. Don't flip out and block me, I'm not a stalker, I just - I guess I just like knowing that you're YOU, and that your experience is unique to you, and I desperately wish I could know all the things that make everybody on this planet the way that they are.

    What am I babbling about? Shouldn't you be in bed?

    goodnight all,

    -ursus.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  24. #74
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I missed this last night and I missed the post about your Dad - I know how hard it is and I am so very sorry

  25. #75
    Cyburbian
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    You weren't alone. I was awake many miles away from you, thanks to a noisy snow plow and some things going on at work....

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