And here it is

“Life isn’t easy. Most people drink to forget, or drive for hours trying to get away from what they can’t let go of or leave behind. Work takes it out of you. Love falls short or destroys you. Disappointments stack up. But still you have to keep going, and how you do that says everything about the man that you are.”

Aaron F. Lewis

While northern Arkansas was under a “Winter Storm Warning” on this Saturday morning. the Pacific Coast was looking at a “Tsunami Watch.” Add one more reason that Deb and I are glad to be here (and not there).

I caught myself cheering for the tsunami. I’m not sure, but I think that makes me a bad person.

Thanks to Deb, I got to sleep in today. She brought me coffee in bed. Once I was up and about she fixed me a bowl of hot oatmeal, which I topped with something we brought back from Montana — huckleberry honey, made in Missoula and purchased in Polson.

Yes, I’m a fortunate man. And no, I never tire of huckleberries.

Snow started falling here around 8am, four hours earlier than predicted. Temps will flirt with the freezing mark throughout the day, which means that whatever falls will be wet and heavy. By noon we had about two inches on the ground and it was still comin’ down.

Mid-morning Deb’s cousin sent a photo from The Mountain. Our Ranger, covered to shed the weather, was draped in a blanket of snow. All of the trees were traced in white. That visual has us wanting to drive Mercy over there tomorrow to see it in person before the snow melts.

Our hosts are using a tractor to plow the campground roads, a compact John Deere equipped with a front-end loader. Obviously it’s not a job they have to do very often, but they’re getting it done efficiently.

Late this afternoon we bundled up, leashed the pups and walked up to the campground’s dog park. Scout has always loved the snow, while Dipstick would just as soon stay indoors ’til spring. Today both seemed to enjoy their romp, and so did we.

By the time the sun went down we had over six inches on the ground. It was still snowing steadily, too, and it isn’t expected to stop ’til after midnight — six more hours. That should make for a pretty cool scene come morning.

Our evening meal? Tomato soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Perfection.

So here we are in our motorhome, in the middle of a winter storm. This isn’t like last January, when we could look out the windows of Second Chance Ranch at a snow-covered bus — this time we’re living in Ernie, riding it out, monitoring the systems and managing our supplies.

And we’re having the time of our lives. We’re right where we belong.

It dawned on me yesterday that I owe readers of Ubi Libertas Blog an update on my friend who was hospitalized with severe WuFlu. I’m happy to report that after 44 days, most of it in ICU, on Thursday he was discharged and returned home.

He has a long convalescence ahead of him. His lungs suffered considerable damage and he lost much of his voluntary-muscle strength, so he’ll be relying on supplemental oxygen and a walker for a while. But he survived and he’s home, and that’s the most important thing.

He would want you to know that he’s grateful for your thoughts and prayers.

The other day a high-school classmate of mine sent me a clip from our eighth-grade yearbook, a photo of the basketball team. It was the 1970-71 school year and I’m in the picture, on the left end of the front row.

I’m seated with the managers — I tried out that year but didn’t make the team. I asked the coach if I could be a manager so I could still be around the sport and the guys. He granted my request, making me the tallest ball boy in the league.

On the right end of the back row is a friend who also didn’t make the team, the last player cut. When one of the boys who’d made the squad up and quit, the coach asked my friend to consider coming back, and he did.

Fast-forward four years. Only three or four of us in that eighth-grade photo earned a spot on the varsity roster our senior year. My friend who’d been cut and reinstated started at forward and was a team captain. I was the starting center — mostly because I could jump (pictured) and the coach wanted me in there for the opening tip-off.

It can be excruciating, especially as a kid, to walk up to a wall, look at a list of names and not see yours on it. I know that feeling all too well. But it’s not the end.

If you’re told that you’re not good enough, make yourself better. If you want something, go get it. Stay in the game. Keep at it. Don’t quit.

There may come a time, of course, when we must face the reality that we’re just not cut out for a particular thing. A sport. A profession. A relationship.

None of the boys on that eighth-grade team, or on the varsity, had a promising future in college basketball. All of us found other things to do, other rabbits to chase. Life went on.

The lessons stayed with us. Go back to that Aaron Lewis quote at the top of this post:

“…you have to keep going, and how you do that says everything about the man that you are.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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