Tag Archives: Longreads

Keep Juggling

A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.

Scan_20160629 2014 nov 2 bert mac

I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never said it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis when we met. Always strong, stable, and focused, one would never know she too was familiar with trauma.

I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert does. Pain doesn’t intimidate her, no siree.

Bert recognized the clown in me and patiently coaxed her out. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles our dings were our secret.

Clowning was different from other performing arts I’d ever done, demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined. Bert’s passion for it was infectious and I came to love it too.

Scan_20160629 (2)

But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating on books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.

Beenies1 beenies

Fellow Clowns, audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed Arleenie Beenie’s talents for years.

With Bert’s coaching I went to clown camp, trained, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines, together, solo and with other clowns. Adding pantomime, juggling, face painting and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.

Scan_20160629

Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:

A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.

How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?

The answer of course, he juggled them.

The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops. For me the allegory was a game changer.

Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.

I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I keep the boxes moving.

Beenies1

Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and she donates all proceeds to Liberty Wildlife and other sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.

I have a living example of God’s delight in me, remembering Bert’s face as I jumped the next hurdle, mastered the next challenge.

In loving memory of
my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie/Arlene Powers

Signed, Bert

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

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Filed under A Door Ajar

Juggle

A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.

Scan_20160629 2014 nov 2 bert mac

I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never named it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis. Though always strong, stable, and focused, she too was familiar with trauma.

Bert recognized the performing artist in me. She spotted the clown in me and gradually coaxed her out into the open. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles fractures were our secret.

Clowning was a different kind of performing art I’d ever done. Demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined myself getting into, but Bert was an exceptional friend – so I came to love it too.

Scan_20160629 (2)

But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating for books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.

Beenies1 beenies

She is truly the Bertimus Maximus. The title probably only means something to those within the Beenie Sub-Troupe, but audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed her talents for years.

With Bert’s coaxing and coaching I went to clown camp, training, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines both solo and with other clowns. Add pantomime, juggling, face painting techniques and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.

Scan_20160629

Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:

A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.

How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?

The answer of course, he juggled them.

For me the allegory was a life changer:

The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops.

Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.

I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I learned to keep the boxes moving.

Beenies1

I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert can.

Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo to my nieces and grandchildren. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and donates all proceeds to bird sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.

I have a living example of God’s delight in me, illustrated in Bert’s face as I jump the next hurdle, master the next challenge.

To my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie.

Signed, Bert

The Lord hears his people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:17, 18 (NLT)

 

 

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Journey Reflections

As my body continues to rebel against time and gravity I appreciate life more than ever before. I’ve been reflecting upon memories, mostly the snap shot images, and some videos from my history.

Film camera selfie: Roo inside tent

AZ boyzNot that long ago, I was known for impulsively grabbing a day pack, and taking off. I didn’t think long about it then, I simply went. With the boys, friends or sometimes alone, we’d explore the land, lakes, rivers, the ocean, whatever we encountered. Subject and adverse to aches and pains now, I plan more these days.

Today those memories took me to three journeys long ago.

Farthest back was a drive from the east side of Scottsdale, Arizona to Crown King. Off the beaten path on some barely paved roads, much of the area was still remote in the early 1980’s, so it naturally appealed to me.

AZ VistaMy favorite part of that trip was the return to Phoenix, cresting a hill on Highway 17 a stretch north of what is now the Carefree Highway. As the Valley of the Sun laid out before me, I stopped to take in the miles of nearly pristine dessert between that rise and the the remote edges of Phoenix. The springtime desert wove a tapestry beneath a glorious sunset of dazzling gold, silver and sapphires, struck with silhouettes of saguaros, chollas, organ pipes and the sloping hills.

CA CoastSeveral decades later, driving around Deer Valley reminded me of yet another adventure years earlier in 1980’s California:

On a rare occasion that my companion and I weren’t pressed for time, we began driving the mini truck from Arroyo Grande bound for Whittier. Instead of taking the interstate, we took Highway 101, and diverted to smaller coastal roads, stopping frequently to refresh and explore the towns.

At one point of the casual drive we stopped in Lompoc. There we noticed a man and woman sitting with large backpacks. We greeted them, struck up a conversation and learned they were from West Germany. That was before the Berlin wall collapsed. Somehow between their pigeon English and our gooney-bird German, we decided to intertwine our adventures together for a while.

malibu From Lompoc they rode with us, taking turns riding in the bed of the truck. We’d removed the camper shell before departing and took the back window out so we could talk back and forth with our new friends. With our company the different route took on an even broader perspective, making the journey more exhilarating.

los-angeles-downtown-cityscape-3000x2000_28675Though we’d been there often, we rediscovered Santa Barbara through their maiden visit. From Malibu we back tracked a little up to Highway 101 again. Though further inland, we wanted to relive the first spellbinding view of the Los Angeles basin with them, the couple in the cab so they could view the city head-on. Though the traffic was denser and noisier, we were spellbound.

We drove through the center of Los Angeles to the Bonaventure Hotel, specifically to ride the exterior glass elevators.

Olvera_Street_Los_Angeles_California_blogWe’d intended to take a meal at one of the dining establishments at the Bonaventure. We ate at a taco stand on Olvera Street instead and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Back in the truck, having shot several canisters of film (before digital photography) we were full of food, and wonder. So caught up in the adventure, we bypassed Whittier and drove on to Anaheim, marveling over the city lights.

The couple opted to stay in Buena Park and meet up with other fellow sojourners in the morning. We located a nice, affordable room for the night within walking distance from their connection the next day.

la basin nightI don’t recall much of the conversation we shared over a bottle of wine, cheese and bread on their hotel balcony. I marveled with them over the magnitude of Los Angeles County. The lady said several times how big it is and how glad they were that we met.

Reluctant to part, even in the wee small hours of the morning, the little truck nearly drove itself back to Whittier. Having seen Los Angeles through their eyes, I became humbled. I felt ashamed for becoming indifferent to the beautiful, marvelous place we lived; from the coast to the foothills of the Angeles National Forest and the amazing metropolises of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Sdale from Cback1988

Roo atop Camelback Mt. 1988

In Arizona 2007, the same feelings I experienced exploring Los Angeles years before overwhelmed me again. I rode in awed silence with my sister from my Aunt’s house that was nestled into the foothills of the North Mountain Reserve at the end of 15th Avenue. Although it looked hugely different, vastly developed, it was still Phoenix to us.

We grew up there when Deer Valley Road seemed to mark the edge of the world and visits to my aunt felt like a trip to the wilds. Now the bustling city reaches beyond the hills with no break before heading up Highway 17 toward Black Canyon City. The long miles of landscape between Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa are now filled with towns spreading outward. Once again, filled with wonder I let go of exactly where I was, where I’d ever been before and watched through the eyes of my German friends long ago.

Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.” Psalm 119:35 (NLT)

 

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Filed under Longreads, Notes from the Apex