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Home2019-08-06T13:52:30-04:00

Never, Ever Give In

Goosebumps pop up on my arms as cold air blasts me when I open the old screen door to the porch. The long, wet painted floor planks with peeling paint reflect the sky, and the distant fog has turned the mountain a light gray-purple color, barely visible. Wet spring greens contrast brightly against the dark sky. Carefully, I make my way to my favorite experience — sitting under the long porch roof during fierce rain and thunder. As a child, we had no porch, but we would roll up the garage door to sit and enjoy storms, and every time it thundered, we would say that God was bowling. Counting my blessings this morning, knowing that being cooped up with a wooded backyard and a neighbor with 40 acres helps me cope with knowing others are stuck in a tiny apartment and can’t even go for a walk for fear of infecting or being infected. Last night this masked, gloved hombre risked his life driving three minutes down the road to pick up a bottle of wine to make our Saturday feel a little more special. It’s the first I’ve been in the car for two weeks. Even though I

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The End Is Near

Tiny buds with the colors of spring are popping out on the tops of the hundred-year-old twisted oaks. A view of the distant mountain shows dark patches of trees with bright new growth creating a patchwork pattern. The air is balmy and fresh, the songbirds are loudly celebrating the arrival of spring, and the distant cattle are munching on tasty new wildflowers. Life is good. Spring comes after a harsh winter or a mild winter. But it always comes. The cycles continue and always will. And when spring comes, we get out and enjoy it and rapidly forget just how harsh the winter has been. Instead, we enjoy life a little more once we get outside after being cooped up. Patterns of Downturns Amazingly, there have been about 47 economic downturns in the history of America, and after each of these winters, spring always came. Sometimes it roars in like a lion, other times it creeps in like a lamb, but it always comes. Clearly I don’t want to make light of the absolutely frightening moment in history we, the residents of the world, are living through. This virus has already touched my life, in the sense that I actually

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Time To Create Memories

My feet tingle as they hit the cold, wet deck of the covered porch that goes the length of the front and back of this “Texas farmhouse.” Pussy willows reach for the sky with their arms out in praise, their soft buttons of fur standing out in contrast against the darkness of the woods behind them. A Christmas amaryllis in full bloom adds a splash of red color against the greens of spring as though it’s Christmas again. Crunching leaves of fall remain interlaced with new blades of grass, and Texas wildflowers start to show their cheery faces as the old tree at the edge of the property blooms with white blossoms. A roar of rain slamming into the tin roof drowns out the distant birdsongs. There is simply no feeling quite as good as spring. Winters, even the short and warmer ones like this year’s, are always long, and we await the new season with hope and anticipation. Fields of Flowers Yesterday, Laurie and I were explorers on a quest for fields of bluebonnets. Roadsides here are covered with them, thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, who had seeds handed out with license plates and encouraged Texans to spread the

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This Virus Will Not Define Us

Opening the squeaky green screen door to the old porch, I’m expecting a jolt of frigid air, but instead I’m met with the sound of palm trees gently blowing in the warm breeze. Yes, spring is here, and judging by yesterday, it may be an early summer. Speaking of palm trees, this week is Spring Break, and our plans to escape to a hidden tropical paradise have been replaced by a staycation. It's just not worth the risk of infecting or being infected. So, to give my lovely bride the week off she hoped for, the kids and I have agreed to cook all the meals for the week. And since we’re staying put, we have time.  This week I’ve been pondering what I might say today in light of what our world, and our country, are facing. It’s not an easy task, because ignoring the situation and pretending it does not exist would not be prudent. On the other hand, overreaction and panic aren’t very pleasing either. A Rant I have to say that I’m highly disturbed by the irresponsibility of the media, and their bloodthirsty taste for ratings. They are so driven to drive ratings and ad dollars

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How to Get Really, Really Rich

A big yawn and outstretched arms start my morning as I look around and see familiar surroundings. Eagerly I make my way to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee and walk the squeaky wooden deck of the porch to my little brown wicker couch with red cushions in the corner. I sigh, take a deep breath, and tell myself that the world has much to offer, but home is still the best place of all. Deer stare me down, then skittishly run off into the thicket of distant oak trees and brush, leaping gracefully as if to give me a ballet more beautiful than the Bolshoi in Russia. The symphony of birds cannot be topped by anything man made. After two weeks away in Russia, I’m where I belong. Though on my last day there, I felt like I belonged in Russia. “You must come to my village,” said my friend Andrey Lyssenko, a Russian artist whom I met over a decade ago on Facebook. Knowing it was an hour and a half outside Moscow, and knowing that my calendar was full of interviews for two upcoming documentaries, I politely suggested I’d have to wait to see if

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Doing The Impossible

I must be dreaming. I awoke thinking I was in the beautiful countryside, surrounded by old wooden dachas (country cabins), fields of ancient windmills, and onion-domed churches. The wind is blowing briskly, and I’m awakened to the sound of someone throwing logs into the wood-burning stove. I get out from under the thick down comforter and walk out into the kitchen, which is over 120 years old and as primitive as when it was built, to have my first cup… Russian coffee as strong as its people. But I’m not dreaming, I’m in the dacha of a friend, master artist Nikolai Dubovik, in a small Russian village. A village so small we had to drive 40 minutes to a town where a mobile connection was available so I could send this to you. It’s Sunday morning here, and nine hours ahead of my home in Austin. Pinch Me I’ve had an amazing first week in Saint Petersburg, living a dream life. Not only was I in what is arguably the most beautiful city in the world, I was in the presence of people who are icons in the Russian art world, and who have influence over the entire art world.

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Never Waste a Good Tragedy

In the distance, in all directions, I hear a chorus of chirping, and then, from my own trees, the sounds of birds fill the cool air.  It’s cool enough to wear the “Asilomar” sweatshirt I bought at the second Plein Air Convention in Monterey, yet I celebrate “cool” instead of “cold” after a few weeks of winter. The good news is that I’m back outside on the long back porch, sitting on the squeaky brown wicker couch with Coke-red cushions, where words flow like soft ice cream pouring out of the machine at Donnelly’s, my favorite spot in the Adirondacks. As I started to sit, another indication of birds perched overhead made me clean the seat before parking myself there. But any sign of spring is a good one.  Hello from Russia In reality, I should be saying the view from my hotel window is a frigid and snow-covered city called Saint Petersburg, in Russia, where I will have just arrived after 24 hours of travel, leaving yesterday. I knew I’d be exhausted, and writing this and getting it to you on time would be impossible. A Vivid Dream Rarely do I remember dreams, but last night's dream was of

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The Art of Backing Off

Speeding through the hills on the winding road, I desperately rush from the house once I see the drawer where we keep the coffee is empty. First, I scoured the shelves in the pantry, then I remembered Laurie telling me, “Don’t forget to pick up coffee.” But, alas, I forgot. So to the car I went. As I reached the intersection between our country road and the big four-lane feeder, it was emptier than a teenager’s gas tank, a rare sight. Usually mornings are packed with bumper-to-bumper Austin traffic. So I take my time, ease out, and make the one-minute trip to the gas station — which I’m dreading, because how good can the coffee be, after all? I’m surprised to see machines with grinders, and hopeful, but alas, the watered-down coffee is not my normal rich brew. Guess what I won’t forget to do today?The air is thick with humidity, slightly cool, but signaling a nice warm day, though I’m guessing without glancing at my screen that it will be rainy. I like rain; it removes the pressure of getting out and keeps me home to do a stack of projects that have been building up and calling out

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The Someday That Never Comes

Glancing into the dark woods, small streaks of dancing orange light kiss the trunks of the trees, and a few select leaves. Moments pass, and these same trees and shrubbery are flooded with brilliant golden light. Looking off to the distant horizon, a glowing orb has just awakened and is peeking above the edge of the mountain, whose purple edges are glowing with the halo of light, much like a Joe McGurl painting. Home to Great Artists I’m tucked away in my warm studio, sitting in the model chair, looking out over the property. The world famous artist’s cabin sits proudly in the distance, having housed some of the most important artists in the world; they stay within her log walls when shooting art instruction films and documentaries. Two weeks ago it was Tennessee legend Dawn Whitelaw, last week Kathie Odom, and this week Carl Bretzke, who does the most amazing nocturne paintings. A Sketchbook for the Smithsonian Inside you’re greeted with an old riverstone fireplace, walls covered in antique photos of Native Americans in hand-cut tin frames and paintings in hand-carved tramp art frames. The walls are adorned with paintings from visitors past, who often leave something behind. On

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The Power You May Not Be Using

I feel the gift of nature, the feeling of being alive as I stare out over the fields covered with dew, the distant blue mountain, and the rays of light beaming through the twisted old oaks that fill the rough grass with shadows. Nature, somehow, feels more alive this morning, as I realize I’m in a mode of praise when I could have been grieving. If you read about last week’s worst day ever, you may not know that after 10 sleepless nights in two different hospitals, my son walked out as a miracle, surviving what most never survive. Groundhog Day In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray wakes up each day and repeats the exact same day, over and over. It’s comical, but also somehow profound. Our son was living his own Groundhog Day, and we were not sure it would disappear. When the brain is shocked or given massive amounts of sedatives or amnesia-causing drugs, inflammation causes short-term memory loss. Short-Term Memory Loss For four days after my son’s heart attack, while he was perfectly conscious and seemed normal otherwise, we would tell him what he experienced. “Your heart stopped. They revived you. You were clinically dead,” we

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My Worst Day Ever

Awakened from my sleep this morning by the sounds of beeping heart monitors, loud alarms, frequent interruptions by nurses, the bright fluorescent lights, and the chatty nurses’ station nearby. The hospital is no place to rest. This morning is our sixth day here. This morning I’m going to recount what I think was the biggest horror my wife and I have ever experienced.  Dinner Interrupted On Monday at 7:30, while we were having dinner, the phone rang. Since I did not recognize the number, I almost didn’t answer. I assumed it was another unwanted telemarketing call, but for some reason I answered. The voice on the other end said, “This is Brady’s friend John. Brady has had a seizure, what should I do?” I immediately told him to call 911 and tell me where they were.  Within moments Laurie and I were en route to the bingo hall where they had been playing. Minutes later, we reached this boy's mom on the phone; she was close by and got there before we could.  Play-By-Play On her speaker phone, she’s doing play-by-play, with perfect calm. We could hear things going on in the background: “He isn’t breathing, he has no pulse.

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Free The Beast Inside You

Deep, dark fog swallows the sky around me. A soft drizzle makes the twisting tree trunks blend into the distance. The distant mountain has dissolved into the sky, and the leaves shine with the color of sage while the bright red Adirondack chairs by the firepit stand out against the blurred background. It's another chilly morning here in Austin on the long back porch under the metal roof, here at the old homestead. Well rested, I’m ready to conquer the fog and go exploring. I’m always exploring. I’m curious. I’m trying to get to know other people and their stories. A fellow artist introduced himself, clearly and confidently, during the seminar I attended last week. Yet according to him, clarity and confidence were not always the case for him because he grew up with a severe stutter that never left him. Like a Leper In school, his fellow students treated him like a leper, leaving him with no friends just because he could not get a sentence out easily. His own parents treated him differently than his siblings, as though he were flawed mentally, when his only problem was the ability to get words out of his mouth.  Dangerous Assignments

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Eric Rhoads
Entrepreneur, writer, artist, marketer, and speaker.
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