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Archive for December, 2013

Greetings readers, I am working on a plan to prepare some of my writings for publishing in a hard cover book. The process will have no sponsorship, so I will initially only have them printed to order on a prepaid basis. I think the first edition will be text only, with hopes of adding my own photos in a later printing run.
I have enough material for two kid’s books, and about three books for the grown folks. I am still seeking an illustrator for the kid’s books, simple line drawings only, with color in strategic spots on areas of specific pages only.
My books will be self titled as is my web page, “Uncommon Thoughts from a Common Man”, with a plan to add volumes Two and Three in order.
I have my kid’s pieces entitled, “Animal Cookies and Salsa”, and “Top Side Down and Bottom Side Up” already written. I plan on creating more than one version of the second title to fit the needs of different family members and combinations.
Please let me know how you all feel about getting in on the ground level of this effort. I feel my works might gain an investor or two after I have put together a couple books on my own and hopefully been able to generate interest from a publisher.
It is much like getting an education/degree, but not being able to find a job because you have no on the job experience. You all have been reading my stuff for some time, but I haven’t published anything on paper yet, so no publisher is interested in me due to lack of prior exposure, (aka, on the job experience.) I am looking into publishing the books for Nooks and Kindles too, but I like the idea of having the option of offering signed and dedicated hard cover books personalized for my friends and readers.
In any case, this is the plan still very much in a state of flux…let me know if there is sincere interest in the humble beginnings of me honoring my gift with words getting out there to a larger audience. Thanks, Matthew Landsman

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Lately I have struggled and searched to join the masses in feeling the joy of the holidays. The spirit was sadly eluding me and I longed for inspiration to find me so that I might write for all of you in honor the celebration just days away.

Yesterday the spirit of the season came to me through a quiet knock on my front storm door. It was above freezing outside, just barely. A meager snow that had fallen the day before had begun to melt some and was slush on the street out front. But in the shadow of my house, the sidewalk there was still in ice and snow.

I opened my door actually expecting to see a client who was on the way to pick up a computer I had fixed for her. Instead, I was greeted by a young boy, who had recently become a neighbor. He stood silent there on my porch. He said nothing, but had a broad smile on his face and snow shovel in his hand, blade to the top. The handle had been resting on my porch, but he raised it up a bit and smiled even broader. I asked him if “he thought I should use it to clean my walk?”, but he just said no. I told him “if he did that for me, I would give him a bit of money”…He just smiled again and turned to walked down the porch steps, still having said but a word or two. And still this great young kid wore that wonderful smile that can win over the day, which was by coincidence the winter solstice.

As I heard the blade start to scrape the concrete and ice, my mind wandered back to another frozen sidewalk…Back to the north a few hundred miles and forty five long years ago. Another boy had shovel in hands, and chipped away at a hard frozen layer of ice and snow, clearing a span of sidewalk without a fee in mind.

The day before, my Momma had been walking on that walk and slipped to fall and broke several of the small bones that joined arm to hand. I felt a duty and need to go make the world a safer place for her to walk, a less hazardous place to weather the British Columbia winter.

So with shovel in hand and winter clothes over all, I set out to honor my due as a boy with a cast-wearing mom. And as I recall, it was likely the first time dealing with such a chore, and I was a scrub of a boy, winded and sweaty as I made safe passage for all that ventured there…perhaps too little too late, but my life as a protector was about to begin.

I was just seven or eight years old then…rather small and in the middle of seven kids born to my folks. It wasn’t a time of prosperity. And having to share the needs and desires of life with so many siblings often left a kid with more of a tendency to spend hours browsing through the ‘Simpsons-Sears” (the Canadian version of America’s Sears and Roebucks) winter “wish book”. And I also recall being more than envious of some of the kids of more affluent families thereabouts who often kindly shared their bounty of gifts with me at play time.

I was old enough to believe otherwise, but I still harbored close the belief in Santa, in his ability to somehow know of my wants and wishes…And perhaps it was that same year that I was again to have my belief validated. Made true in the discovery of a new red bicycle in the living room there on Christmas dawn. I had always ridden well-worn and used bikes until then. It might not have been a Schwinn with a drag slick in back and a springer front fork with a small wheel up front, and banana seat and high bars and a five speed shifter, and all that (I still want one of those)…But it was mine. It was brand new, and Santa had heard me and delivered it to the side of the tree! Whew! I get breathless just remembering.

And not only did I believe in old St Nick. I was also being given insight to the true meaning of Christmas, sent to Catechism on Wednesday evenings, attended services on Sundays there at the Catholic Church in Abbotsford…I even had my first communion during that time in the Western most Province. I was far from a saint and had more than my share of trouble inside…and I needed all the help given my parents and siblings. But I was in truth being given the tools I would need later in life.

I will share that I was a troubled soul even then. I was in fact a bit of a brat. I admit that I often felt perhaps I was less that loveable, at times undeserving of favor by Santa, of blessings by God. I can also share that I was never slighted by Santa, even when I was caught peeking at gifts under the tree and otherwise spoiled Christmas for myself. But Santa came through, and my family and God too still loved me.

And as far as God loving me, I found strong evidence of that when I was riding my shiny red bike along a busy thoroughfare, and somehow got in the way of a very large Cadillac. I was to be sent through the air quite a ways, and deposited on my little melon. But I never lost consciousness, nor did I break a bone. I was treated to a headache and a visit to the hospital directly across the street from the accident scene. And my very bent shiny red bicycle was in turn repaired by my father and put back in service in short order.

While reflecting on the events from my past as that smiling boy scraped snow and ice from my walk, I dipped into the cup in my bathroom where I keep all my change. I pulled ten quarters out of it and joined that boy on the sidewalk. I handed them to him, and told him there were ten of them in his gloved hand. I quizzed him in math by asking him how much they added up to. For a minute we reasoned and multiplied, added and figured the issue successfully. He is a pretty bright boy.

I returned to my house and waited to see if he would end his efforts now that he had been paid. I was rewarded by the resumption of the sounds of scraping and chipping by the shovel wielding boy. And I rewarded the honorable young man by returning to the sidewalk with a couple cookies. I inquired then of his age, and through a smile he replied that he was eleven. I looked at this great kid there in his sweat pants and baggy sweat coat, and mittens, with a mussed up healthy head of hair. I asked what his name was. He told me, “I’m Richard, at school the kids call me Richie, but you can call me Richard or Richie, whichever you want.”

I said, “thank you Richie…you’re a good kid”. He smiled and I went back inside. I felt a sigh while knowing I had found there on my porch in a smiling and earnest boy named Richard or Richie, the very spirit of Christmas that had been eluding me, escaping me. In a ten minute span, I was again gifted through the present and the past my belief in Santa, in family, in Christmas, in the reasons for the season, Jesus and God…and in fact; in ME.

There have been many reminders come flooding to me since those divine minutes of yesterday afternoon, and many good souls have reached out to me to reinforce the spirit of things…

But most of all, I found the young boy in me again through the boy on my porch. And I know that this year Christmas found me standing there on my porch through a boy named Richie with a shovel, a smile, an already admirable work ethic…and a spirit to remind me of what I’ve been missing so far since Thanksgiving had faded in my mind.

Thanks to Richie, to Santa, my parents, and to a generous God, I can wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I remind you to hug your folks, to embrace your family, to thank God for sending us his only Son…and to open your minds, hearts, arms, and doors…’cause you never know what you might find…

Thanks Momma and Dad. Love, Matthew Lyle…

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From the moment we draw our first breath, the last one lies in wait. The essence of life then is to treasure and make the best of all those breaths that come between the first and the last…

(I had just laid down for a quick nap but had to come to my chair and type these few words…now I can get a bit of shuteye…I have honored my gift and answered the calling…hope you enjoyed this Saturday afternoon Matthewism. I know I did.)
Merry Christmas, Matthew.

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I have been closely listening to TV commercials, and reading print ads, for various prescription medications. After about twenty or so seconds or a strong paragraph and a dreamy photo, introducing the product and singing its praises and hopeful effects, there comes the avalanche of warnings and possible side effects and dangers according to drug interaction, age, gender, etc.

I appreciate the efforts to adhere to liabilities, laws, insurance policies…and so on. I believe that a lot of these drugs can and do bring a quality to lives without harmful side effects and compromises.

Now I have to wonder about ads for alcoholic beverages. There is little to no truth in any of the ads. They glorify a lifestyle and increase peer pressure to fit in according to the brand and mixer, the container one drinks from, location of the consumption…They all but guarantee the consumer will be sexier, cooler, more successful, socially accepted, taller, prettier, more powerful…And many of the commercials use suave actors or runway quality models in teeny clothes to catch one’s attention…The entire aura surrounding these ads is glamorous,  euphoric, romantic, and pure fantasy. You get my drift.

booze

Not one possible danger of the endless side effects to those who abuse the drinks, the health effects, lost days at work, violent tendencies, marital problems, mental problems, deaths attributed to driving drunk, killing of the liver, social costs to treat and prosecute offenders of various types of laws, poor judgment…and the fact that booze turns some people into pure assholes. No honesty in any of the advertising as far as I can see.

I’m not saying that no one should drink. I AM saying that a lot of folks shouldn’t because of interactions with prescription drugs, intensifying of depression, bipolar disorders, PTSD…and the fact that many are prone to addiction of all kinds.

There is also the huge negative effect to a person’s financial well-being, and the trickle-down effect of picking up the residual tab for offenders. There is also the obvious fact that families are destroyed by the drinkers and their co-dependent partners and children who are victimized.

I know most souls can have a few drinks and have a good time. I know it helps some to relax in a social setting. I know it is a social icebreaker and gives many something to do while seeking some socialist outlets…It absolutely isn’t all bad. But then, neither are the prescription drugs that are scrutinized so closely in advertising.

I think most folks can have a few drinks with no negative effects or the possibility they will drive and have an incident.

I also know there are those who WILL have problems because they drink, or will drink because they have problems. And one will make the other infinitely worse. And the danger to others is even more so. Alcoholics are a menace to the lives of others.

I have to ask why the commercials on TV and in print ads only glorify drinking and give false impressions and false hope and a euphoric result. I personally am sick of hearing and seeing the widespread issues that arise from drinking and abusing a mix of drugs and alcohol…Why isn’t there a sixty percent ratio of claims VS warnings and side effects and pure dangers to health, society and welfare as a result of drinking by SOME of the population? …Then we might also touch on the suicides, murders, rapes, and physical and mental violence that occur while troubled souls drink and dwell and rage…

I had to finally say something. I myself quit drinking nearly 27 years ago (February 1987), and I am still cleaning up the messes I made when drinking, and dealing with the damage to my career and health, marriage, etc.

The advertisements are not just untrue; they are lies and a menace to lives of some, which soon add up to the lives of the many. I wonder why I rarely hear others complain about this glaring acceptance of unadulterated bullshit being fed to good people, without the possible negative truths and hazards being shared at the same time.

As a recovering alcoholic for over a quarter of a century, I share theses thoughts with well intentions and a deep honesty.  Matthew L Landsman

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for Erica…

streetlamp1

She came to me on a quiet breeze…spoke softly to me in a whisper through the nearly bare trees. She found me there alone under a starless sky…found me praying to a place far up beyond a corner street light.

I was looking for a place where winter didn’t exist…seeking refuge from a storm I knew was going to find me without shelter…find me like this.

She came to me there on the wings of a December wind…came to me kindly in the voice of a friend. She fluttered down past the shrouded street lamp…and as I watched her descent, she softly kissed my cheek. Was it perhaps the first snowflake…the only one there, touching me again from somewhere in our past…

Or perhaps it was just a near frozen tear, born of our laughter, our distant embrace. Born of a kindness, a sigh, of loneliness, for a moment at least; erased.

Not sure why I roamed on a night in the teens, strolled there in a frozen and stark night. But all at once there was a shiver, not from cold, but from gladness…fed by a smile and a sigh. It was a familiar warmth that only one soul could bring…

And I will wait for that fond tear that a winter breeze brings, to fog my sight a little, and break in my voice a bit…and I will open my arms to the presence of her there in the wee hours of a winter night…and embrace her, if only…only in memory. And I’ll await another such moment, when again the night calls to me, and the north wind sings…

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