Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Art of Art

The Art of Art
copyright by Paul Nichols 2012 

Who knew that the art of art is such an in-depth craft? 
Who knew that inspiration comes looking for you? Who knew that inspiration walks along side you, following you around, never saying a word, but always urging the artist in you to a higher plane? Or to a greater piece of music? Or to a most beautiful set of end tables? Or to piles of  books and poetry? Or to a baseball bat and glove? Or to a perfectly balanced rock stack?
Really. Who knew?
And why wasn’t I told this when I was about five years old? It could have saved my parents a lot of confusion and angst—inspired by me.
“What do you wanna be when you grow up, son?”
“I can tell you already I don’t wanna go to school—and I sure don’t wanna to take no piano lessons! That’s about it, I guess.”
“Now son, there are rules. We all have rules we have to follow.”
“But, Mom,” I pleaded. “Wait…. Daaaad,” I yelled to the back yard. “do I have to…?”
“Do what your mother tells you, young man,” Dad snarled back from way out there.
I want to know how my dad knew from way out there what my mom had just said way in here.
Guess what. I waddled to school and rubbed shoulders with kids who turned out to be the most inspirational folks I ever met. Grades K – 12. They still are. Writers, musicians, teachers, photographers. Bronco busters with shiny belt buckles. Hunters. On and on. I love them all. We visit briefly almost daily on Facebook. It’s so inspiring.
Guess what else. I reluctantly took piano lessons. So now I like Mozart and Bach and Tchaikovsky and Beethoven and Roger Whitacre and Rock ‘n’ Roll and Alan Menken (I love kids) and Neil Diamond and Queen and The Top Secret Drum Corps and Gabriel’s Oboe and Chubby Checker playing a piano duet with Jerry Lee Lewis. There are many, many more. Many more.
Shall I mention such electrifying, stupefying, whirlwinds of art as Les Misèrables, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Phantom of the Opera…? You see what I mean? And there are many more of those, too.
Inspiration touched each of those artists one day and said, “Here, let me make you famous.” And they listened. And they worked at it. And they practiced. They weren’t the only ones. Why, there are folks who are as old as this earth who led the way. They all sacrificed and went without. They rarely got paid and they didn’t care. And the world is a brilliantly wonderful place.
I was not so noted. I always suspected that inspiration was there. I just couldn’t bring myself to follow my heart without my parents’ or my wife’s permissions. “Get a job and keep it, son.”
I started college in1970. (There’s that school again, only this time I took 2 of my kids with me.) While I was there I met the lovely and multi-talented Paige Van Horne who sprang right off the Inspiration Vault. She stuck it, landing right beside me. “Hi,” happily. She was Inspiration in the flesh.
So in my last year (1974), I wrote a novel, which was a graduation requirement. Along with Paige I included Ansel Mortgage, Jesse Ford, and Ranza Castillo, Paige’s best friend. I got an A and finally finished school. I put the novel in a box formerly used for blank typing paper. Then I went back to work delivering packages.
(For the record, I killed Paige’s parents in the first chapter of the book. In a hydroplaning accident out on I-35. Suddenly, just before her 18th birthday she became an orphan. And in about the 13th chapter her friend Jesse had a similar accident on an icy side road. He lived, but it nearly killed Paige. “Oh, no! Dear God! No! Not again!” she screamed. She refused to faint. “I have to go to him. He needs me!” Somebody gave her a water bottle.)
One night, maybe ten years later, while I was snoozing deep in the night, I heard someone say “Paige Van Horne.”  Clear as day. I was up and out of bed in a flash. Only my wife was in the room, sound asleep.
Guess what again. In the morning,  I opened my e-mail and there was a message from my journalism professor. In the subject line he typed “Paige Van Horne”.
I want to know how Mr. Bohrer’s e-mail from Oregon gave voice to someone in my bedroom.
Inspiration? Yes, inspiration. Inspiration is a living entity and it goes where it wants to go. Does what it wants to do.
I use a little corner of a spare room in our apartment. I call it “my office.” I’ve written and sold books there. I wrote 51 technical books and many professional papers—all for somebody else. I wrote articles and letters to friends; I did a blog for awhile and I post on Facebook, a veritable garden of delightful friends. Sometimes I find inspiration there just sitting there waiting for me.
My office will do for now. I’ve got books and references of all kinds. I think they are in cahoots with Inspiration, who has never left me—or at least hasn’t gone very far away.
And every once in awhile, Paige and Jesse, Ansel and Ranza whisper this to me: “Please come get us, Paul. Don’t you know that even the very words of God are inspired? “
“We think he wants you to shovel us into the public,” said Ansel. He’s a genius.
“He’s got your back, too, Bro.  He is Inspiration.” That’s Ranza. She speaks Spanish.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


It’s been cold here in the Heart of America this winter. Especially at 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. So I drive down to the mall and walk for an hour or so. Exercise.

Well, yesterday seemed no different than other mornings. Cold, a little icy here and there, a gentle wind. I went so late that I saw the beginnings of a beautiful sunrise. Once inside the mall, I took off my coat, gloves and ear muffs; stretched a little and took off walking. Same as other mornings.

Along the way, maybe half way, I happened to be talking with someone about my shoes. They are special shoes; shoes I’ve had since at least the year 2000. Can anyone say 14 years? “Oh, you should take care of your feet,” my walking companion said.  “You should get new shoes every….” Well, more often than 14 years. I had to explain that I rarely wear these shoes. I kept them because they are so near and dear to my heart.

Ever wonder how an old pair of shoes can be near and dear to your heart?

In 2002, in the apartment building where I lived, a fire burned up everything we had. In the morning, we left the house. In the evening we came back to nothing. All that we owned were my pickup, her car and the clothes we were wearing—including those shoes. So I kept them as a memento.

Well, then this happened yesterday morning. When I finished my walk and headed back to the car I heard, Ka-flop-ka-flap!  Ka-flop-ka-flap!  Ka-flop-ka-flap!” What? But the sound went away after a few more steps, and away I went back home. Later, in the afternoon, while I was outside enjoying spring-like weather, I heard that noise again. I investigated and discovered that my cherished shoes had broken. The sole on one shoe was Ka-flopping-ka-flapping! 

When I got back in the house, I took my walking companion’s advice and disposed of those shoes. Obviously, it was nothing like a funeral, but for a minute it felt like it

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five Crowns

I once did a Bible word study on the word “Crown.” I have no idea where I got the idea to do so, but I did. It didn’t take long before I discovered that individual Christians can receive as many as five crowns.

Listed below are the Five Crowns and their Scripture references, in order from the Old Testament through the New Testament.

  1. The Knowledge Crown—Proverbs 14:18. “Prudent” is the key word here. “…having or showing careful good judgment.” The opposite of foolishness (folly). The more prudence, the more knowledge will be crowned upon a person. I’m pretty sure this crown is bestowed during our lifetime on earth. I recommend that you read the whole 14th chapter where many foolish people and prudent people are compared and contrasted. Interesting.
  2. The Crown of Beauty—Isaiah 61:3. This crown is for those who minister to the poor, the brokenhearted, mourners, prisoners and people who grieve for Zion. Again, I recommend reading this whole chapter. It’s a beautiful song of freedom, honor and a glorious future
  3. The Crown of Righteousness—2 Tim 4:8. In this letter to Timothy,  the Apostle Paul was not at all hesitant to claim this crown for himself. And he quickly added “…to all who longed for his appearance.” That’s everyone who’s looking forward to the second coming of Jesus.
  4. The Crown of Life—James 1:12. This crown is especially designed for people who are enduring or have endured abuse, physical torture, imprisonment and even death because they claim Christianity. In the early days of Christianity, many Christians were murdered for no other reason. And in this modern era we can think of several nations with zero tolerance for Christians. Abuse, torture, imprisonment and death run rampant there. I also firmly believe that this promise applies to young girls and women who have been enslaved into sex trafficking—even in the good ol’ USA. Pray for Christians around the world.
  5. The Crown of Glory—1 Peter 5:4. This crown is dedicated to the elders (ministers, pastors, priests—and missionaries) of local or neighborhood churches. It will be given as soon as the Lord comes back. It will never fade away (see Revelation 4:4).

These then are the Five Crowns that I believe await us. You want one? Or all five?

If I have come up short here and someone wants to add or correct me, that’s fine; please do so. I could use another crown. Scripture has many other references to the word crown. But most of them are verbs, not nouns.

I used the New International Version as my lead study Bible.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Angels Watch Over Us

My friend Jennie Carpenter gave me this idea. It’s all her brilliance. My recap of 2013.

  1. At noon on New Year’s Day, my daughter had been married for about 24 hours.
  2. I began a project: “365 Days of Gratitude” to post on Facebook.
  3. It was 72 degrees here one day in January. Two days later, it was 10. TEN degrees!
  4. I had my first helping of kale in January.
  5. I fell asleep during the Super Bowl and never knew who won for three or four days.
  6. I turned 70 for the first time.
  7. I started writing my first full-length novel. A romance novel, despite my age and gender.
  8. 2013 was the Chinese Year of the Snake. 2014 is the Year of the Horse.
  9. Our church baptized 17 people one Sunday. Lots of praisin’ the Lord, movin’ and shakin’. Know what I mean?
  10. We made a down payment on a house. We got our money back. Bad house, after all.
  11. Our friend, Bob Sewell passed away in Dallas. (#1)
  12. I make our own Almond Butter.
  13. I always eat Ice Cream for Breakfast on March 20. Please join me. I’ll explain later.
  14. Two sisters-in-law and an aunt came to visit. No reason. They’re from FL and MS. “Girls Night Out” for four days.
  15. I went way too many days without writing in my diary. What’s up with that?
  16. I have a collection of coffee mugs from 35 states. Only 15 more states to visit.
  17. A teenager asked for my autograph, just because I write. I asked for her autograph, just because she wants to become a writer. I keep it in one of my diary books.
  18. April is Autism Awareness Month. Please help us find the missing piece.
  19. I like Greek food; Persian (Iranian) food, Mexican food, Chinese food, American food, Middle Eastern food, Holy Land food, Japanese food, Thai food, Italian food—just to name a few.
  20. I watched the movie, “The Lone Ranger,” in a theater (think Johnny Depp).
  21. Our great friend Bud passed away in Arkansas. (#2)
  22. We joined two “fellowship” groups in our church. One is music only; the other is a book study. Both are fun and the people are great!
  23. I like personal mail. Personal letters. Haven’t had one in awhile. Need my address?
  24. I watch “The Red Green Show” on PBS as often as I can.
  25. Our neighbor died in her sleep. (#3) She used to babysit our dog.
  26. The 4tha July is my favorite holiday.
  27. Everybody should have a fast, fast car! Or a Harley. Or both. And a pickup.
  28. I love kids. All ages.
  29. My barber, Dave, retired. He let me be the 3rd from last customer on his retirement day.
  30. Three super friends read (parts of) my novel manuscript and sent back input and encouragement.
  31. Every 5th Sunday of the month, teenagers are the  greeters at our church. They let me be in charge. I guess I’m just a kid at heart.
  32. Marcie and I attended my nephew’s funeral in Colorado. He died in Afghanistan. (#4)
  33. After a two-year absence (not my choice), I started blogging again. Yee-haw!
  34. I hydroplaned off the freeway at 60 mph. I was almost #5. Angels, for sure.
  35. I wear colored T-shirts for underwear. I like red ones best. Or bright yellow. Or orange…
  36. I got to spend almost an hour with Angela Hunt, renown Christian author. She’s an angel.
  37. I never missed a writers’ meeting this year. I missed a couple of critique groups, though.
  38. Gloria and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary with friends and family.  Fun, food, fellowship, fotos and frolic. Scroll down to the previous post to read all about it.
  39. Our grandson lived with us for three months, then took a gamble and moved to Las Vegas.
  40. I got a Chinese fortune cookie that says, “You have a charming way with words and should write a book.” I saved that one and put it my diary book.
  41. Yankee Stadium is a special place and I want to go there. Who’s with me?
  42. Mariano Rivera pitched his last game for the New York Yankees. He is a class act. (I wanted him to be Number 42 here.)
  43. Peppermint Ice Cream is a Christmas tradition at my house. Come on over!
  44. Sometimes I wish I was a famous photographer. And artist. And graphics designer.
  45. I dream of walking across the United States. I want to. It will only take 16 months.
  46. I walked about 450 miles this year. In the mall during cold weather days; outside, otherwise. Two years ago I walked over 1200 miles all year. In all kinds of weather.
  47. Church/Mass on Christmas Eve seems only natural.
  48. At our Christmas Eve service, Miss Laurel sang the best version of “O Holy Night,” I ever heard in my entire life. Thrilling and goose-bumpy. Like an angel. I told her so.
  49. We opened gifts at my daughter’s house this Christmas Eve. Family matters.
  50. I crave In-and-Out Burgers. Or Smashburgers. Or What-a-Burgers. Even Jack in the Box burgers. Wanna welcome the new year with me?
  51. I’m getting set up to do this again next year. Stay tuned. Wait here for me.
  52. I’m a jenius. So is Jennie. The only two in the world.
Thank you, Jennie, for your post. You’re an inspiration. You’re a delightful writer. You’re a special friend to so many people. Angels watch over you, don’t they?