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Rare Air Episode 20 and May 2017 desktop calendar

An original desktop calendar for May appears at the bottom of this post.

So far in life, we have only visited Saint John one time – it was our “vacation of vacations” last June, as you can read in other entries I’ve shared in the past. When I tell you that Beth and I are set to return this July, you probably won’t be very surprised. I don’t know how often we’ll make it there, but I’ve been pining away for the next trip since we booked it earlier this year. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 17: Saint John – Underwater

Scroll way down for an original desktop calendar for November.

June 11 is the date we planned to arrive in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands, before staying on for another nine nights. In the months leading up to that, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about those moments we’d be spending in paradise. My inner photobug also drove me to great lengths to gear up for the trip, as I got serious about capturing more captivating moments to feed into new Rare Air chapters. Read more

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Rare Air Episode 16: Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Scroll way down for an original desktop calendar for September.

Thank you for joining me here to ring in the autumn of 2016 and sample some of the experiences gathered earlier this year in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands. I have referred to it as our vacation of vacations, giving you a sense of how much fun you’ll have when you go. The day I shot the footage appearing in Rare Air episode 16 is one I will never forget. Read more

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May 23, 1992: Hoot Owl Holler, Episode 2

On the 20th anniversary of the best day of my life (the day I married Beth Kiefert, and she became the now-celebrated Beth Darnell), it’s a sincere pleasure to invite you to enjoy this second installment of “Hoot Owl Holler.” In this video presentation that uses more footage shot by my dear cousin Bart Ridings, you can hear some of the fun-loving wise-cracking from our loved ones who gathered together on May 23, 1992, in Greenville, Illinois, for our wedding. Also shown are too many others who are no longer with us: They are all missed greatly. On we proceed through life, still recalling the words we printed in our program, and the high sentiments which set the tone for what has so far been a spectacularly wonderful adventure together.

Joy, Shipmate, Joy!
by Walt Whitman

JOY! shipmate—joy!
(Pleas’d to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed—our life begins;
The long, long anchorage we leave,
The ship is clear at last—she leaps!
She swiftly courses from the shore;
Joy! shipmate—joy!

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Arc of the Poet, Part 7: Home Stretch

Nearly a year after our spectacular wedding, May of 1993 found me, Beth and pretty much everyone else in our family continuously thinking about my brother, his daily perseverance in recovering from his July ’91 diving accident, and his successful return to a more normal lifestyle. By then, he and his girlfriend had their own place, on my dad and step-mom’s farm and within earshot of their home. From every angle, Scott was making us all very proud, and showing the kind of resounding inner strength we all hope to have when faced with unimaginable adversity.

At one point right after the accident, my mom wondered aloud if we would ever be happy again. Illinois has always provided a powerful attraction for me around my birthday in May, and I was especially thankful while driving there on May 6, 1993, that I was feeling real joy. You can find a poem I wrote back in 1988 about those annual treks to my native homeland here. Read more

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Arc of the Poet, Part 6: Serious Dreams

Coming into 1992, I was living a dream: working in development for Ivan Tors Entertainment at the Disney-MGM Studios, and hopeful that the screenplay I was writing for their lead feature project would launch my career as a screenwriter. But on May 5, the day I turned 26, I was laid off and asked to clean out my office in Bungalow 3 and turn in my backlot pass. Though it was a serious setback, I landed in decent shape, mainly because Beth was in my life. Later that month, together with legions of family members and friends, we experienced a glorious wedding amid the cornfields and Spring-time Illinois countryside, surrounded by love.

That era is one I look back on with a lot of pride… and disappointment; I really had high hopes of landing a major role in the movie business, and by that February, the path to success appeared right before my eyes. I thought I was well on my way. Read more

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