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Pete Seeger’s Banjo

Pete Seeger's Banjo

Download Free Print: Pete Seeger’s Banjo

Pete Seeger will always remain one of my personal heroes. It’s not his political activism that necessarily draws me to him, but rather how much he valued the things in life that really matter; how he truly believed you can change the world by getting people to sing together. I admire his commitment to working people and human rights, but it is his 70-year marriage that places him above others who I respect, into a special group of those I aspire to be.

Every time I hear him speak he manages to say something so wise it moves me instantly and stays with me permanently.

I once heard him say the happiest people he’s met are those who are hurting in some way.

At the time I was hurting pretty bad, and it was incredibly moving to hear someone else who understood how on earth I could be so completely happy.

Chai Tea

On the rare occasion that I pour a cup of tea without spilling a drop I feel like some sort of martial arts master.

I’m sure it’s possible that after a million years of pouring tea our society could have designed a pot less prone to dribbling, but to pour a perfect cup from some sort of fool-proof “modern” design just wouldn’t offer the same satisfaction.

In those one-in-a-million moments when I lift and tip with the perfect angle and trajectory that not a single molecule of red rose drools down the spout I sit up straighter and feel that much more confident… like I can take on this afternoon with the unmatched balance of voracity and patience of a Jedi master.

Paper & Ink

Illustration by Troy DeShano

Will books become obsolete in the future? be the “new scrolls?”

I don’t think so, and it’s not the tactile nature that’s going to save them.. It’s the smell.

Something about paper & ink.. The newness of a freshly cracked memoir or the orthodox of a century-old novel is totally irreplaceable and so subconsciously craved by each of us who’ve ever spent any amount of time on the beach with a paperback, under the covers with the Hardy Boys or (for a few of us) in a hospital with Harry Potter that if it were ever eliminated from the human experience our world would most surely fall into ruin.

So when you pass on your favorite old Newberry winner to your kid, make sure she knows to take a big whiff and soak in the wonder of the binding.

Lest we forget and usher in a premature apocalypse.


Gasoline by Troy DeShano
illustration by Troy DeShano

Sometimes people ask me to explain where I came up with the idea for Strong Odors or why the name or what the site is exactly.

Gasoline is one of my go-to explanations.

Because gasoline is one of those odors that most of us probably wouldn’t describe as “good.” We might not call it “bad” either… it doesn’t really fit into those black and white categories, you know?

But—good or bad— it is one of those odors that we can all relate to (and most of us actually like for some weird reason).

And that’s kind of what Strong Odors is.

Sometimes I experience certain moments in life that might seem good or bad at the time… or might seem good or bad on some level later on… or might not seem like anything… but however sweet or delicate or pungent or putrid… they are the experiences that shape me and affect the course of my life.

Sometimes it is even the smallest of things (like the color of my high school locker) while other times the experience buckles my knees (like discovering my son has Autism).

I’d have to say that up until now gasoline would probably have fallen into the prior category—unmistakable, delightful, sensory—but not really life-changing.

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I have a lot of great memories on the trampoline. Way too many to count.

It was a great escape for me as a teenager. I’m sure the bio-physiological benefits played a part in that. High-sensory activities that involve a lot of deep compression on your body help regulate brain activity.

Then of course when you add the psychological benefits of community (jumping with good friends) and risk and fresh air, you’ve got some pretty sweet therapy going on.

Add a little music to the mix and you really can’t find a much healthier activity for your spirit.

I struggle sometimes now to take my trampoline vitamins daily. It is so important to me as an adult (especially up here in the north where trampoline season is so short).

But I have to constantly remind myself how important it is not only  for my own psychological well-being, but also to my kids development.

10 minutes a day is like magic.

With each bounce my stress disappears and a positive memory is seared in their little brains.


Smooth Sailing

I don’t particularly like to be late.

But now with three young kids I’ve just accepted it as part of my life.

So when I’m rushing to school or church or whatever hoping that five minutes late might still be fashionable, there’s nothing quite like a string of green lights to get me there quick.

I’ll take it as an answer to prayer if the rushing happens to be on a Sunday morning (which it almost always is)

Although previous content will be included, this post is the very first creation specifically for what will eventually be the Strong Odors book.

Double Rainbows Blastin Me Across the Sky

No-one will ever see a double-rainbow the same way again.

Of course in our house, a catchy tune almost always eventually becomes a song about farts.

Double double rainbow turns to “double double fart!”

I suppose it would be more appropriate if it were the kids coming up with such sophomoric improv.

(I’ll also take credit for Avatar: the Last Fartbender, thank you very much)


Philippians 4:4-8

Celebrate God all day, every day.

I mean, revel in him!

Don’t fret or worry.

Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst…

the beautiful, not the ugly

things to praise, not things to curse.