I love the past. Which means I’m going to love today, someday.
Preparing yourself, and being present. You can be either, but you can’t be both. While you’re preparing, you aren’t in action when people are counting on you. And you’re assumed to be present just about every moment of your life.
When you’re participating, you’re not preparing. Get good at toggling between the two, before your opportunity is lost. Because you can’t just show up and expect the best outcome. You can’t be home studying while the test is being administered. Your flaw would be the thought that no one could fault you for hitting the books. Another flaw would be not knowing when it’s time to snap back to the present again. Hitting the books may be a great way for a student to spend his time, but it’s not greater than showing up for the test.
Next week’s test will be for you to give me your detailed opinion on this idea: Fight your enemy until you welcome them into your home.
Next week a kid will come to class for that essay without having gathered facts, he will wing it, won’t even bring a pen, he’ll assume they’ll be provided and will also assume that what he can come up with on the spot will be an effort worthy of his name.
Another student will overwhelm himself absorbing books and interviews and film, whittling so deep his knife won’t extract from the wood.
Don’t write off people with flaws. Think of your mother. Not just what she taught you, but how you saw her stumble and fumble and show up to make it better again.
Your mother is anybody to everyone else. Be ready to think of strangers that way. Better yet, set your focus on yourself.
I loved an idea and it was gone like a child. I didn’t write it down, because I didn’t bother switching the mode and picking up a pen. That creation of mine wandered off, and shame on me. I can continue to come up with other ideas, but I can’t reimagine that one, ever. It was lost in the state of matters.
Seeing human qualities slipping away, when the potential’s never been higher for our neighbors’ accomplishments. Hearing the most vapid and foulest words from under-twenties who should be past all that. They should be damned ashamed with how they present themselves! Remembering my under-twenty days and not being past being a fool, and not being damned ashamed, when maybe ten people knew how truly stupid I was.
Living a good life today and knowing how this was carefully set up for me. Failing at life at age twenty-eight and knowing how I set that up, too.
Believing the best is past, while understanding many prior generations thought the exact same thing. This insight, which is thankfully well-documented in one-hundred years of song, book and film, goes a long way to erase the sting of feeling bad for tomorrowers.
Shaking a case of the blues. Coming home from a supermarket in a rough side of town, saying hello to a smiling cashier and thanking the lady who showed me where I could find something I was looking for.
Shaking a case of the blues. Knowing how to navigate among people of differences, time after time and again. I know how to make that work. It came from preparation and ended in unity. Unity is the way for people to move forward. If you wish it, you can navigate well too. If you’re looking for a problem you’ll miss your chance to exceed your best memories.
Shaking a case of the blues, barely, gently. Cool it, let it be still, and share with your neighbors.
I think you’re a good guy. I’m never going to know you, I can’t say this to you, you won’t ever read these words, and I still believe it. That is just the beginning of the power of who you are.
Oh my God, there you are, doing the best you can, as much as you can manage to. Because being good is not being perfect, it’s being present and helping out.
Hey good guy and good lady. You can find stuff you’ve given up looking for. Sure, you’ve found another solution, or gone without. Well, I want you to know something important. The friend you lost has not given up being found by you.
The one you cast away is one of the cast in your play, this will always be even if you’re facing away from each other on the stage.
Hello good man or good lady. You bore the burden of the high ride of High School, with those expectations crushing you sometime after age twenty-two. You were crushed, and you floundered, and then after righting yourself so many times, you settled into the best status imaginable. A good person.
You will never recall what you do not record. So you pursued a variety of experiences, including reading what was worth your time. You worked within your means to make life meaningful, for people in your sphere, over and over again. That’s way more than a status title or a salary.
You bring goodness to the world, and I love you. You’re in plain view, to those who are young and crushed, or old and crushed, and waiting to be reformed. Which way will inflate them? Who is going to help form and set their rightful standard? When their example is you, they reshape themselves to keep out of trouble. They’ll be content, and happy, and grow from there. They grow, from you.
Hey good guy or good lady. Keep going. Thank you for showing up and helping out. For shaping me when I was crushed and for getting over hating yourself when you’ve let you down. It’s no secret when I say, we need you. I don’t have to know you, when I know you’re out there.
You can travel, or you can explore right here at home. You can find something new on a trip by car or plane, or you can make a discovery in your reading room’s bookshelf. You can be honest with yourself and admit that you own books you’ve never cracked open. A faraway place or your copy of Listen! The Wind!; your eyes have till now seen neither.
I’m excited to explore what I have!
What’s there to buy, when you can rummage through your closet or garage? Why take a photograph when you haven’t bothered to study the albums your mom and dad filled? Who do you long to speak with again, when someone you love’s under your roof, being unspoken to.
They are alone, right now! Who again, do you long to speak to?
All that I have, should be used once and reused, often. My collected treasures should be described by me, not by others. What I’ve shared creates value to a stranger overseas, a fellow enthusiast who enjoys what I’ve shown. I don’t need him to be inspired to do likewise and show his treasures to me via the online forum we belong to. Instead, I want him to explore what he has, himself.
You are going to die, not knowing about most of the places and people in this world. Don’t die not knowing who or what you’ve got at home.
Let’s take a look at what I’ll be producing for you this year.
Last year was the tenth anniversary of The Literate Show, a site where I pair a single original photograph or illustration with writing, to make a story. This formula will continue.
This year’s subjects will include a piece on an appreciation of readers– who you are, and what makes you unique in today’s world. I’m not talking about people who skim read, or who scroll to the last two paragraphs to get the gist of the story. I’m talking about people who sit down for their meal.
Is that you? Could that person be you, one day?
If you enjoy what you get here, thank you, it’s made for you.
I picked up many new regular readers in 2022, and I owe you the following: I am, primarily an abstract and traditional floral artist who writes human interest stories. I love people and cherish friendships.
I celebrate the joys of my childhood by working with scale models and setting them in artistic diorama scenes. The pre-teen enjoyment of model tanks and planes, and of history books, flows through me at age 57 and brings much to my general writing and viewpoint.
You need to get that, to get your writer.
If you like what I write, then I hope you’ll understand there is a particular mix that is me, that makes the stories just so. You cannot remove an element from who I am, that you may think is unsavory. The work would suffer. It would be incomplete, or toothless; sensitive at the wrong moment and insensitive when it must not be. If I were to filter who I am, I’d begin to cross over into what you get from other writers.
In 2023, you will get at least one new story per month.
You will get at least one new travel photography exhibit, to a town or city that I have wandered through with my cameras.
Hopefully, you’ll be stirred emotionally with something new, and if you tell me about it, I will learn something new too.
There may be a very big surprise this year, but so much has to align to make it happen. In the meantime, I’ll restate my promise to entertain you with good material. If a certain piece isn’t your thing, please come back for the next. Or you can re-read (or discover) a particular favorite, from the past posts.
What I write is like my mother’s Armenian cooking. It is not for everybody. It is made with care. It isn’t rushed, and it’s not fast food. Most of all, it’s delicious, if you spend some time to sit down and enjoy it– in this place that’s my home.
It’s time to post my best model diorama and scenic shots from the past few years. I have tried not to show repeats from previous posts. You’ll be seeing fresh material.
I have seventy-five pictures for you today. To make viewing easier, I’ve categorized the images. We’re going to start with science fiction and end with jets.
Most of these models are 1/72 scale diecast metal or plastic. A few are larger scales, and a few were kit builds. I built and painted the Alf seaplane and the Semovente self-propelled gun, which is 1/35 scale and in the first three photos from the Early WWII category. Many of the tank models have been painted, weathered, and detailed by me. 99% of the scenes were photographed on my kitchen table on physical sets, and then finished in Photoshop for an artistic completion. This includes fixing flaws, or dropping in sky, or jungle, or other backgrounds where needed.
This is me enjoying my models and relaxing, by creating interesting scenes. Some of these will inspire future written stories. I go radical and wild with anything I want to try and these pictures are very satisfying to make. Click on the picture to make it big!
MIDDLE YEARS– WWII:
THE DESERT WAR:
BEUTE PANZER (SOVIET TANKS THAT HAVE BEEN CAPTURED BY THE GERMANS):
I was traveling eight hours on the I-81 highway out of West Virginia, and there was so much to not see. I was dismissive of the lands and numb to them; everything looked the same. I was in here, and all that was out there. My soda can was more interesting than the Opequon farms, and it was an empty can, at that. The landscape was a mass of repetition in those hundreds of miles, and that was true until I realized it couldn’t be true, at all.
The wastes of locations off the interstate are rarely one’s destination. A full half of these sights are the medians between north and south traffic, and east and west lanes. The medians are state property but don’t seem to belong to anybody. They are maintained yet essentially unclaimed. Thousands of people pass a given point in a matter of minutes and unless there’s a rest stop, it’s all blank to them. We can say, those sections of real estate are as regenerative as golf scenery in a 1990’s video game. Median grounds, no matter how natural and beautiful they happen to be, are stand-ins between the two real stars in our life: Who we hugged where we left, and who we’ll greet where we’re headed.
Until it all becomes untrue, to the traveler.
Here’s what it’s like. I’m a passenger in a speeding car and I’m being called. I’m being spoken to, by what I see I’m travelling past. I’m not responding and feel gluttonous in the enormity of what I’m ignoring. With the calling, I can’t help but think I’m letting the roadside down. The trees, the cows, the clearings, the barns, each of these entities scroll past for their respective first times yet they accumulate on my grid of stubborn resistance.
Whether picturesque and thrilling or simply present and passing, they are units of area. When I give no regard to these groupings, I’m placing a lock on a door that had been left open for me. My locking their door does not hold them in or shut them out– that function is impossible. And it’s not going to keep other people from entering that group’s world. All I’m locking out is myself. If I keep it up– if I pretend the calling is not for me, I’m never going to discover anything new. Because what is new must always come from outside me.
That includes ideas, for ideas are gifts.
Those highway scatterway places, with their trees and fields would feel frustrated with me if they could feel, because my lack of response has shuttered an entrance I might have otherwise crossed. I don’t mean I could have crossed their entryway by stopping my car and exploring their pastures on foot. No, I’m talking about something deeper, grander, like being on their lands by simply giving myself permission– allowing my mind– to get into their particular world.
That allowance is a big step, believe me.
A man allowing himself something, anything, is him telling the world: I was here, and now I am moving. And the world glances his way, perhaps for the first time ever and says, “Oh, look, he is alive after all.” And now the world will take note. And possibly, take action– depending on what the man does. He’s on the map now.
Resist their open door? No longer. I was here– driving many hours– and only now I’m beginning to move!
Oh, I have to get close to it, to see what makes it what it is! I have to make a movement to stop myself from not venturing to these patient places. Because they had to have been patient, to have found me.
I had taken this drive to see family over Thanksgiving, and now I was returning home. What’s going on out there?
Each bit of passing land is a mini-scene, and I take a second or two to digest it. I have just a moment to see it, to grasp and take it in, because the next scene’s coming right after. One second, and two, and gone. And next and next.
I get it, and it’s moved on. I get the next scene, and it too is gone. And again, fifty, one-hundred, countless times I accept what’s set before my eager eyes and immediately cede it being replaced with another scene.
Each tree establishes a place, delightful in its context. Freeze it in my eyes, and in that one-second’s time I think: Boy I would really love to be there. I long to plop down and linger, yes right near that enclave, not fifteen yards off the hard lanes of pavement. Under this tree, I can read Anne Morrow Lindbergh in true peace. Her words from 1935 come directly to me, there’s no age in her prose, no translation matrix to interfere.
I can do so much more than be alone. I’m driving away from my loved ones, my Thanksgiving hosts, but why not imagine them with me? Here, and here?
Everyone I’ve said goodbye to, not just this holiday but any loved one from any day– why not picture us together? I remember someone, a very special someone who loved the sound of rain on a roof. Something about it, she never articulated just what, brought her immense peace. Maybe it was the fact that she was dry and in complete safety, during the downpour. My car ride is through a storm and I can see a cottage off the road where we’d be protected. And just like that, she’s there with me.
She turns to me and presses something into my hand. It’s a folded piece of paper with lines and lines of neat handwriting. She says, “Ten years from now, when you think of us, I want you to remember how happy you are right now.” And I do.
It’s sunny again. I see a cluster of vines and I imagine my mother and brothers and sisters are there. It’s the third week of June, and mom says this is the best week to pick grape leaves, because they are at their most tender. Not to worry about gathering too many; she knows how to preserve them for an entire year. And the family is assured of several meals of delicious sarma, my favorite delicacy of them all.
How is this done within a mere second or two? Well, as each physical location passes, I begin to form ideas. Specific people come to mind and a story develops, waiting for the right sight to come into view. And then like a stamp, I apply the scenario as it fits.
I can be with you here, mom. And there, and there. You would find something to enjoy at each place I set my eyes upon. That’s the kind of contentment you carried with yourself and brought to others. Maybe you could tell us kids another story from the early days with dad, and we can marvel at how sharp your 1953 recollections are. You mean to say you two took your honeymoon in Washington DC and hadn’t made hotel arrangements? General MacArthur was in town and all the rooms were booked? Where did you stay that night? And you tell us. To our delight.
“That sounds exhausting!’ People will say.
I say, try it. Try going somewhere wild when someone drives you home. Dare to see where you look. You may find that you can play, explore, read, daydream, and converse, in long-discounted places that just happen to be real. You can imagine even more on top of that, if you include those you love. And then some kind of magic happens, as you answer a certain call.
With you, I’m no longer seeking what to do today. It’s sunny and we’re in your truck, first to drop off some things for a friend, then to pick up our hot food for the game. You’re playing music and it’s loud and you’re humming along with a tune we’ve known forever. The next song comes on and you’re back to singing again, except this song’s new to me. I freeze and you smile. “You don’t know this one?” you say, as you turn it up and get into it. And I get into it.
With you, we have a picnic spread on the field overlooking the breakers on the sea. We have lots of plans for today and at this moment, all we care about is what’s placed before us. It occurs to me that your focus is making sure all’s right with me. “Do you have enough?” you ask. And I do.
With you, you hold my arm and ask me why you’ve lived this long. When others have passed. You’re worn out with nothing left. You want to know how that makes any sense at all. I say that I’m so glad to be with you. You say, “I can’t argue with that.” You squeeze my hand tight and then we talk about those we loved so much, those long gone. Wouldn’t you know, you tell me something new about them. And about you.
With you, you’ve bought me dinner for my birthday and we’ve played frisbee right after. It’s dark and I know you have a family to get back home to. I hate that our time’s coming to an end. “It’s getting too dark to play,” you say, as we gather the balls and disks and place them back in your trunk. We head out, and talk, and I don’t want our time to be over– but I don’t say a word about that. You’ve given me a great night. Then you say, “How about an ice cream?” and just like that our night starts anew. Then I say it: “I don’t want this to end. I love you so much, my big brother.”
With you, all of you, I express my gratitude. I can’t help it. We’re shoulder-to-shoulder and each other’s presence should be enough– it usually is with your other companions, right? When it’s me and you, you’re getting a different flavor ice cream, aren’t you? A new song. You’re going to hear something no one else has told you in a long while, if ever. With me.