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Archive for the ‘nostalgia’ Category

I’ve combined my thoughts from yesterday together for you on this Veteran’s day, 2010

You may have noticed I have been paying tribute and giving thanks to Veterans and current members of the military all day. You can go to my profile and see them all there.

Don’t forget to pray, and say thanks every chance you get folks…

If you choose to learn a language, or join a friend at their church next weekend, remember this: That you choose to learn German, Japanese, Italian, Russian or any other tongue. If you want to worship Buddha, the Koran, the Bible, Jesus, Jehovah, Satan, or nothing at all…remember, the only reason you have such choices, is because of young volunteers (and former draftees) in the military defending those rights.

Last Christmas, I traveled to the house of a friend and her son Austin. This spring when he graduated high school, Austin left for Marine Boot Camp. He is currently training in Twenty Nine Palms, California. I never looked on this young guy as a potential hero when he was 10 years old and playing paintball. But in light of becoming a Marine in the midst of two current wars, I can only look on in awe and say thanks. Thank you Austin.

Because I served only vicariously, (as a friend and writer many who did serve have shared with me their experiences)…When I lay down at night, I will recall their generosity, but I will share no common dreams with them. My four older brothers all served in the army while I was in high school and told me they had, so I didn’t have to.  Today, and all days I have a lot of veterans and active members to thank.

I am good friends with an elderly Chaplain who was a tail gunner on a B24 bomber for 30 bombing missions over Germany in WWII. I am also friends with an 80 something year old veteran of WWII who was in the German army as a 15 year old. He believed in the cause, until he found out it was unjust and un-winnable. His friendship is as true as the other. Good men in a bad moment.

I love them both. Both taught me about forgiveness. Both taught me about the horrors of war. Both taught me to not forget. But mostly, they both helped me to heal the angers and fears I was brought up with…They need to meet, and one day shall…where there are no judgments to endure…and they will embrace, and find other; better things to talk about. That is what they taught me…

If you have a memory that haunts you from time to time, a moment that wakes you in a cold sweat from a life event…stop and think about our veterans and current members of our military that have years of such horror to live with and carry around for the rest of their existence. And know too they can only truly relate to those others who went through it with them, and that many of them were lost in the midst of it all.

When you’re on your boat, burning all that gas and just soakin up the suds and sun, remember there are and have been military folks at sea for months on end, being tossed by relentless wave and wind. They have superiority of the ocean and air, but at a huge risk to life and craft. Their days are nearly without end, smiles from loved ones are but memories…All so you can spend carefree days in the sun…

If there is warm sand between your toes, and you’re enjoying it…keep in mind there is a member of our military, man or woman, in the heat of a desert far from home with combat boots in hot sand, with hot rounds coming and going all around ’em. They are not having fun, nor are they aware of your bliss…but still they continue to do what they do, so yours is safe and without fear…

Matthew Landsman…Your humble scribe… Thursday, 11 November 2010armyboots

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My response to the cliché …’you can’t live in the past…’
It is my past that taught me about tomorrow. It was my past that gave me failure to turn to future victory. My past that gave me every embrace and smile from my mother, to sustain me through all my tomorrows. My past that nourished me and gave me all my height and every ounce of sinew, that I carried to field of hay, field of play, all the strength to heft tool and toil for long days in both chilled air and heat.
It is my past that brought me all the smiles that I recall as I hope to find new smiles today. My past that urges me when I am shadowed with doubt, and look to the reserve of memory that tells me in fact; I can. Because I have. And I know I will again. It is my past that proves to me, that educated me with lessons hard and harsh, with tough love and subtle reminders.
It is every moment of my past that I am a cumulative result of. My failings taught me to live and learn. My winning moments taught me to be gracious and to always look back. And my losses taught me to be kind when I did win…for the victory isn’t in humiliating and demoralizing others…It isn’t done when I have won. It is done when I have helped the one who tried and fell short, to rise again and learn to enter the arena another day. My past of mixed results has made me a better man.
My past gave me a child, and ushered him away into the world. My past made me a father, and gave me the need to father, even if not my own. The past also took away some fathers from those kids for which I rise up to fill that void. The failings of others are the opportunity for me to rise to the occasion and help give a kid a future. I know this, because I live in the past. Their past…
My past nearly ended me, and drove me to my knees. It saw me torn and broken. The arrogance of youth is soon lost in a sea of humble…an ocean of humiliation. I hold those crevasses of foolishment close to my heart…so I never return to that stretch of road. Those moments are the ones that continue to remind me how fortunate I am to be among the living. I live in the past, so I can continue to live. I got sober in my past, and that moment is revisited often.
Something about my past shines with a recollection; that no matter the darkness of the hour, of glow of jubilant hours, I have always found my faith kept me afloat, reminded me to be grateful. I haven’t always embraced those moments when I probably should have, but the essence has followed me and waited there with open arms, an open mind and heart…healed me, forgiven me, schooled me and loved me without fail. I don’t live in the past, but my past lives on in me.
My past gave me teachings from my parents and the world around me. God followed and accompanied me, even when I lived some days with reckless abandon. No matter how my past has been taken for granted, I never found myself abandoned. I don’t dwell on my past; I let it teach me the moral of the story. And remind me of those things, people, and moments I like to revisit, but not to reside there anymore.
Welcome to my past, I’ll learn what it taught me; tomorrow. MLL

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sprinklers2

Nearly summer. We had the first dose of heat in the last couple of days. I see the entire community is in full blossom and pristine new leaves. I see bare feet and bicycles and open windows and doors. I feel the kids anticipating the end of school year and that old restless feeling of springtime and being cooped up inside.
I was reminded of things I miss, people I miss, places I thought I’d forgotten, and songs I couldn’t get enough of…
And suddenly it dawned on me; I want to run through sprinklers again.
I want to wake up a few minutes after dawn, and pull yesterday’s tee shirt over my head. Before anyone else is awake, I want to turn the TV on and have the volume way down low, I want to watch Aquaman, and the Monkees in black and white, all while eating cinnamon toast and a bowl of cereal with farm fresh milk. The kind we got in the glass gallon jar with a few inches of thick cream on the top.
I rarely wore shoes, and could run on cement. Once I learned how to ride a bicycle, I was all over our little town. Tragedy was a flat tire, darkness and still a ways to get home. I was scared of the dark…not like today because I KNOW what is out there, but simply because I didn’t. Dark was dark, and that was all.
I want to go barefoot all day again, over gravel and hot blacktop, and cool grass and through warm mud puddles. I even want to stub my toe the old fashioned way and walk home on my heel and bleed like a nine year old tough guy.

I want to eat my grandma’s apple pie, and have her ask me to go pick out a cucumber and a head of lettuce from the garden in her back yard. And I want her and my Momma to be having coffee together, and wondering if I’m ever going to grow? (I was a pretty small kiddo.)

sprinkler

Back when being 60 was real old, and the guy at the gas station actually came outside, and worked for a living and checked under the hood. And when the pump dial stopped turning, he “topped it off”. I want to marvel at muscle cars again…when they were brand new and only worth $3000…not $50,000.
I want to ride in the way back of our 1966 Chevy Belair station wagon and lay on a blanket…watching the stars out the back windows till I fell asleep before we got home…after a long day at the farm. I want a grandpa again. I want to explore his farm again…and smell the smells, and see dust floating in sunbeams. I want to ride on the back of his tractor and watch him roll a cigarette with one hand. I want to watch my uncles stack hay and feed cattle. I want all the adults to talk for an hour between the back porch and pulling away in the car.
I want to have a day with no plan, no goal, leave the house with sleep in my eyes, flyaway hair, seventeen whole cents and a Hot Wheels dragster in my pocket, a Band-Aid on my stubbed toe (for the first half hour), eat a chic-o-stick for lunch, hang out with my friends from dawn to way after dusk…and I want to run through sprinklers again. Oh how I want to run through sprinklers again.
Matthew Landsman, circa 1965 to 1971

sprinkler3

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biggs snow

I recently had the pleasure of following a stretch of Oregon’s Highway 97 between Biggs Junction and Bend. I was on my way to reunite with my past, to embrace an old friend and celebrate the present by honoring some yesterdays.
The plow was frozen fast in mid furrow. A tractor wore a hard December’s snow.

snow tractor2

Hands rarely idle were still tending to hungry critters gathered there in a huddle, marked by nostril-fed clouds of steam… standing in wait of tossed hay, in wait of fairer weather, and less-cruel winds and softer days…

snow cows

It was a journey filled with glances into a distant past, before the demise of newness, before the slow erosion of rain, snow and sun had taken its toll on everything that lay under that unrelenting sky.  On this day I looked on rusted barbed-wire, disc and plow…scenes of decades of weather-grayed timber and shake… scenes of the element-decayed remains of shelter and shade.

snow house

I thought about the calloused hands that had put all of this together. I thought of the ravaged stand against time that, at last, had begun the return of wood to the ground from whence it came, and rusted iron and brick to the receiving earth below.  I found myself wondering along the way about the shuttered windows of old homes, and faltered family businesses and gas stations there.

snow gas
I thought about the dreams that had begun, been brought to fruition, then brought to their knees and finally laid to rest. I know I was off the main Interstate…no truck stops or Safeway stores…no wide shoulders or street lamps around…just long rows of hard ground, planted and watered by the snow and rains…urged on to flourish by the power of prayers and God’s good grace…

snow tractor

And, in the distance, I saw a rusted Massey Ferguson, a plow, and disc…and a faltered old John Deere in deep weed and ill repair. It once took a second mortgage and a leap of faith to secure the outfit.  Then more ground was broken, more hours in the noonday sun, and long after the shadows grew long, he toiled and she watched from the home on the hill to call him home ahead of the storm…That was thirty years ago and a dream now at rest…but they still reminisce… Time now for bouncing a grandson on his knee…a generation removed from the fields and the old-time certainty of farming’s uncertainties…
Before the desert was turned over and the sagebrush burned, there was just the majesty of the Three Sisters and their companions in solemn sentry…mountains to feed the streams and rivers, and adventurers’ and wanderers’ thirst and appetite for clear days of distant artistry and food for thought.

snow sisters

There was but a vision, a hopeful promise and a faithful homesteader’s prayers.  There were green timbers sawn in a mill, the old hard way…and a need for shade, for shelter…for a home to the prancing team that pulled the plow and combine over the rolling grounds…a loft for the hay that sustained it all.  There was a youthful sinew and a bounty of day with no quit in sight.  There were four seasons…the dusk and the dawn…all the hours in between…and an ancient urge to plant, to tend, to harvest, to raise, water, feed, slaughter, and market it all.
On Oregon Highway 97, or Alberta’s Provincial 2…the dreams and sweat were all the same…Matthew Landsman

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Here is my vision of how a young man might have induced a young lady to join him in a life as a pioneer in farm country during the 1800’s and early 1900’s…A proposal of sorts…

My Love…I will plow, till and turn. I will drag, rake, stack, and burn. I will clear the land and plant the seed. I will give you everything you need. I will thin the timbers from that grove near the river…I will saw, plane, groove, and pin. I will haul, dig ditches, pump, and dam…I will seed, cover, water, shade and tend. I will feed you and ours from the fields near the home I intend to build…from what I brought, can create, and can find in nature.

And after the stones are made foundation, after setting the timbers for frame, wall and floor…Then I will plank, pole, and shake; covering those frames, walls, ceiling, rafter, and roof. After you unwrap the panes from the quilt and towel, I’ll bring sunlight into your kitchen, bedroom, and parlor. Then I’ll build you a porch with shade from a great tree. And I’ll hang a front door. Mine and yours…And we’ll call it home…you and I.

Matthew Landsman

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There’s a memory in my kitchen, hanging over the sink. It teases me on a regular basis…each time I get a drink. While I run the tap until the cooler water flows, the origin of it taunts me, its faded petals and fractured leaves look down on me as the mystery grows.

I’m not sure why I hung it there, nor how long ago. There’s no clue except that a lot of time has passed since there was still velvet in the petals, dewdrops on the leaves, and a lingering scent.

Time and again I’ve heard it said, “If these walls could talk…” In this case it is so…the wall is trying to say something, but just what, I simply do not know.

It’s just an old rose in a dusty sandwich bag…and also so much more. Once there was a reason I hung it there.  There was a day of relevance I wanted never to forget. Was it a moment of pleasure, or of pain? There was perhaps a night of new love being born, or a day when one met our Maker and my world was drenched in life’s proverbial rain.

How else do we mark such days? We stash mementos in drawers, marks on a calendar, pictures on side tables, and always, we have songs. We absentmindedly leave things in the pockets of a Sunday suit…a funeral program, a theatre ticket, a celebratory cigar, a trace of life enjoyed, ended or begun.

But upon this wall I made a declaration of a resolute sort, to mark the time and remind me of it several times each day.  I’m not sure if it’s meant to urge me to smile or to miss someone.  In silent vigil it rings out with sorrow and joy alike.

A rose on the wall may mark a birth, a celebration of a first dance, a marriage, a growing love, a faded love, a last day on the job, a time of praying…first for life to be saved, then for it to end swiftly and mercifully. It reminds me to not take those in my life for granted…to live… and not just live vicariously.  In not so many words, the writing is on the wall…A faded rose that leads to prose…A metaphor for a floral visual aid to jog my memory, which isn’t quite what it used to be.

Matthew Lyle Landsman, July 2008

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After sixty one years, the life that accompanied mine no longer shares the morning coffee, the news of the day, or a conversation long after the day has passed. She no longer stirs the pot I momentarily forgot…fills the ice tray I left nearly empty. She is no longer the soul breathing quietly there on the pillow next to mine…

I’ll still talk to her, and reach for her hand when I stroll. I’ll still snatch a rose from a bush down the way; sing her a line from a special song. I’ll stir my coffee quietly, and tuck my shoes away…just in case she is still lingering somehow.  I’ll want to always please her…to take away the evening chills…to find a way to kindly tease her. I’ll still keep my promises, and after sixty one years, my vows still remain. My attentions and intentions are the same.

I have often said I’d like to live yet another eighty eight years. I have a feeling I will be re-living the last sixty or so every day from now on.  The thought of her still makes me smile, still makes me proud, and still accompanies my thoughts from the waking moment to the midnight’s dreams…

I’ll breathe in her essence, and exhale her laughter…again and again…until there are no longer moments…no longer breaths. Till there are no more promises left to be kept, no more roads to follow, no songs left to sing…And then, and then, and then…she’ll fill my cup, and my hand…with hers, my heart with her pulse, my mind with her poetry and prose…my eyes with the creations and senses there in the canvas, parchment, pen and ink, palette and brush…and from her imagination.

And from across a crowded room, I will again seek her warmth, her steps softly accompanying mine…and again there will be tears, but of joy this time.  And while others bid adieu to he who has been missing her, I will be looking again into those eyes, listening to the quiet welcoming behind those familiar sighs…we will again be young…and old all at once.

Familiar, yet fresh and full of youthful anticipation…I will finish saying what you begin, and as before…I‘ll cling to your every word. For now, I’ll keep you close in my heart, until again you’re close at hand…

Written in honor of my friend Ben, by Matthew

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