The Adventures of Stefan-no and Muggins-git
Many of you know our grandson, Stefan, one of 14 grandchildren (and one great-grandson), as well as our Cocker Spaniel, Muggins. Well, before Stefan's second birthday, he was already talking up a storm. Non stop. Incessantly. Even in his sleep... actually, he still does. Anyway, at that age, he didn't quite get this name thing. Being as precocious and irrepressible as he is, we frequently had to tell him "Stefan, No!", with some sort of emphatic inflection in our voices. Well, he actually thought his name was Stefan-no. And since he was so curious about things, he considered himself to be a self-appointed parts inspector... always examining those loose things that hang on Muggins... you know... ears, tail, those loose flaps of skin that bunch up whenever he's cowering in the corner... and, of course, certain private parts... and figuring that if they just hung there, they must be extraneous and therefore unneccessary, and should be removed. This proved to be a bit disconcerting to Muggins, so we had to scoot him out of the way, again with emphasis, saying, "Muggins, git!". So what did Stefano think the name was of this fuzzy plaything? You got it. And therein was born the zipped-at-the-hip relationship between Stefano and Mugginsgit.
We had tried to find another home for Mugginsgit before we moved to Laramie, figuring that he would not take kindly to the cold weather. How wrong we were... and how glad we couldn't find that home. Right after we moved to Laramie, the first and biggest snow of the season came to town. Stefano and Mugginsgit were most excited about this new feature of the landscape, and we often went for a walk around Washington Park near our home. Now, Stefano was a mimic from the git-go, and wanted to do everything that Mugginsgit did. The problem was, that neither had seen snow like this, and didn't quite know how to deal with it. Some places were quite slick, as they both found out. Mugginsgit found that there is an advantage to being only a foot tall... that is, that he didn't have very far to fall when he slipped on the ice. It was quite a scene to see all four of his legs go out with a thud, and there was he, looking more like starfish than dog. Well, Stefano thought that was the greatest thing, so he decided to flop head first on the gound. He found out that falling three feet is a bit different than falling one foot. So, after we wiped off a tear or two, off they went, fulfilling their duties as snow inspectors.
Mugginsgit found a new and exciting passtime in winter... burying himself in the snow. With real snow here, not that fake plastic kind we used to see, Mugginsgit now finds particular delight in first rolling in the snow, and if it is deep enough, completely burrowing himself til he is nearly hidden. And what of Stefano? you got it... except for this one little catch... Mugginsgit instinctively watches out for rocks and trees. Bonk. Wipe off another tear or two. Be careful of those trees, son. Off they go again.
Mugginsgit loves to run. From time to time we take him and Stefano to the mountains so they can run to their hearts content. But, they both found that going up the mountains is not quite as easy as going down. But, ohh, the going down! With natural ice and snow slides everywhere, it was only a matter of time before these two guys, zipped at the hip, found even greater adventure in the joy of gravity. There goes Stefano and Mugginsgit again... ears standing out like wings, arms and legs flailing like a starfish tossed in the wind. However, with such adventure, there is a price. Stefano can almost walk half way back up. Guess who carries him the rest of the way? Not Mugginsgit... right... Omah (Hephzibah) and Opah (Gayle), but mostly Opah. Nonetheless, since I am in need of some physical exercise anyway, this does me good... until I slip on the snow and ice, and we all head back down the mountain again... with even greater gusto and more enthusiastic flailing. I find that I can flail with the best of them.
After a dozen or so trips down (and, of course, back up), the Bobsey Twins there want more, but Opah is frazzled. With the sun setting, gravity will have to wait for another day to prove its power. For now, I've had all the gravity I can stand. My sore behind attests to the fact that it works just fine. Our warm home looks so inviting, and hot coffee is waiting, right next to the book for reading Stefano's bedtime story . Tonight, the story is about a boy and his companion... a boy named Stefano, and his faithful starfish, Mugginsgit.
Be warm and filled,
Gayle, Hephzibah, Stefano and Mugginsgit
A Cowboy's Life
The life of a cowboy is glamorous... we all know that because we see it in the movies every day. Yup... ridin', ropin', rustling doggies... yippee and yahoo, rid'em cowboy! So when I received an invitation to join our friends, Ron and Sharon Hawkins, in a real roundup, with herding and branding and all the cowboy stuff, Hephzibah and I jumped at the chance. Let us at'em Ron. Now Ron is not one of those fake plastic cowboys. He is a real genuine flesh and blood rootin' tootin' cow stomper from the old west. Yup, we were in for a treat.
We arrived at the ole 91 Ranch in the early afternoon one day last week. I'll admit, I looked like a dude with my tee shirt and ball cap on, but I was a cowboy at heart at right... let's get with it Ron... just show me what to do, and I'm there. Yippee kiyay. We drove up to the big barn on the ranch and parked the car, figuring we were at the right place. Yup, this is it. As we walked in Ron said, grab this bar son and let's get crackin'.
Even as we walked in, the hands were driving the calves into the ole corral for their branding and shots. I gingerly walked up to a cage-like device they were working at and announced that I was ready. "Bring'er in", was the only thing Ron said. The first calf was herded into the cage and Ron said, "pull that bar and lock'er down". The branding cage was a complex affair... solid on one side, with a number of vertical bars on the other, each with its own latch, so it could be removed. As the calves were put into the cage, my friend, Tim Rush, another genuine cowboy, was in charge of capturing the calves' heads with a lever that pulled a device that closed in on the neck of the calves and held it in place. I was then to close the cage with a lever with ratchets on it, to hold the calves' bodies so they could be worked on. Once captured, the entire device was rotated 45 degrees, to put the calf on its side, so Ron and Mike Walker, the ranch owner, could do their work. Easy. Simple. Yippee kiyay.
Hephzibah was in charge of herding each calf out of the branding area back to the holding corrals. You should have seen her... hollerin' at those doggies with a mighty shout and using a stick to head them in the right direction... sometimes not so gently. When the bigger calves got rambunctious, she did not hesitate to use her right foot of persuasion, right in the ribs. She got their attention, and she always accomplished the task with all dispatch.
With the first calf in place, things were going fine. She was bellerin' something fierce, as the shots were administered by Sharon and others, including Sandy Welch, good friend and wife of our pastor. More bellerin'. Then came the branding. Mike unlatched one or two of the vertical bars, took and electric branding iron with the figure, "91", and began to set the brand on the calf. Whoa... there arose such a column of smoke, as he held the branding iron on the calf for what seemed like an eternity... several seconds at least. The smell of burning hair and hide rose along with the smoke in waves of stench that put anything to shame I had ever smelled before. The calve's bellerin' went from inconvenience to sheer panic in nothing flat. It was at this point that I began to realize just how many orifices a cow actually has.
What a scene... the bellowing coming from one end, cow pee squirting out the bottom, cow poop flying out the other end, snot flowing like a river from its nose and drool like you've never seen, even when you used to fall asleep on your school desk. Kickin' and hollerin'... I think I had better tighten this cage down a bit more... give me a hand, Tim? I have come to realize that it must have been a cowboy that invented the phrase: "Here's mud in your eye"... except he was just being polite. He wasn't talking about mud at all.
Well, we got through number one. Go, Hephzibah... punch that doggie! Off she went, yee-haw, chasing that calf into the next corral. How many more, Ron? 70 or 80? Surely I have earned my keep already? No? Bring on the next one. So it went for a short while, calves, shots, branding. More bellerin', poop flying everywhere, drool by the gallon and the smoke and the smell of burning hair filling the barn. But, I was gettin' in the groove now. No problem.
Calve number 6 was considerably bigger than the others... no problem. Latch the cage down, shots, brand, bellerin', snot, more poop. Delightful. Let'er out. "No... wait", says Ron... "now comes the fun part". He unlatched another bar and pulled out one of the calve's legs. "Here Gayle, hold this." What do you mean, "hold this"? "We have to band'em". Oh, OK... band'em. What's that? "It's sort of like castration... you know, turn this man into a boy". What did I sign up for? "Here, hold this", as Ron handed me the cow's leg. This was not the largest to come, he only weighed about 300 pounds. So I got the leg. Ron and Mike went to work on the private parts of this "domesticated" wild animal, who weighed 300 lbs and was getting his manhood removed. Are you gettin' this? Mike asked, "do you got'em?". Yeh, I got'em. Well, for the next short eternity, I wasn't sure who got who. This animal went to kickin' and bellerin' like he was getting unmanned. He was. Now, I weigh around two hundred pounds, which is probably why Ron put me on the leg side... makes sense. But this "calf" was tossing me like I was a small inconvenience... the flea on the dog, a rope on the Goodyear blimp. But, I held on. Oh yeh, I should have brought some gloves. with padding. and a shirt with sleeves. and shoulder pads. and armor. and a great big cowboy to do this for me.
Now, another orifice was being added for this guy cow. Talk about flying fluids. To add to the scene with all the rest, now there was blood.... some of it was the cow's, some of it mine. Where? knuckles, arms, elbows, shoulders... scratches, bruises. I was getting slammed into the structural steel of the cage in every direction. More kicking, more fluids, more slamming. We could not band every calf. Some were more difficult, and those private parts had to be cut out with a jack knife. More blood... some flowing, some squirting. Well into the late afternoon and after sundown we went. I hung in there through all 80 or so calves.... about half of whom were man-turning-to-boy cows. A couple of the big guys approached 400 pounds. On two, the violent reaction was so great, I couldn't hold on, and Ron got "tapped" with a flying hoof. Tapped to the tune of being knocked twenty feet into the barn, right on his keester. We could all feel that. Ron, are you all right? Ron? put your eye balls back where they belong, son, and let's get done with this cow. Oh, you want to take a break? wimp. (I didn't say that out loud... Ron eats more than the likes of me for breakfast every day).
We finally did get through the rest of the calves. To say I was beat up is like saying that cows don't like getting unmanned. We cleaned up what we could. I was covered with remnants of flying fluids of every description... and smelled like it too. The barn was like the proverbial smoke filled room, filled with the smoke and smell of burning hair and hide. I grabbed a wad of paper towels and soaked them in cold water, holding them around my hands, especially my knuckles... it was the only way that I could find comfort for my aching bruises and bashed joints. But, all was eased and forgiven when we went to the house, where the ladies were fixing a rancher's dinner of chillie, hot dogs and salads. Excellent eats... and excellent fellowship with folks that actually work for a living. This day added new meaning to the cow in cowboy.
Yup, the life of a cowboy is glamorous. The next time you go to the movies for a cowboy flick, remember us. It's a good thing the movies don't have smell-0-vision... that keeps things romantic. Ron said they were doing this again soon. Sign me up!... we just love Wyoming.
Be warm and filled,
Gayle and Hephzibah
Life in Laramie... and America
In case you haven't heard... Laramie is under attack... and so is Boston, Omaha and San Diego... and so are you. Of course, this is nothing new. Struggle has been going on here in Laramie since the town was founded. This struggle we so take for granted goes on every day. Some of it is in the natural, seen realm... some of it is in the supernatural, unseen realm. But make no mistake about it, this struggle has been going on since the time of Adam and Eve. Only nowadays, the struggle has taken on personality, faces and a certain in-your-face arrogance that has us reeling with a revelation of its reality.
We have received a lot of email from folks from all walks of life... people in distress, businesses and others, writing about the events in New York and Washington. Most of the words people are speaking are words of horror, unbelief and grief-filled descriptions of the events as they unfold. But, there is distressingly little or no discussion, even from Christians, of the greatness of our God, and His powerful hand on this country, just as it has been since our foundation with the Declaration of Independence. One does not have to read much of the history of this country, nor indeed the world, to get a bit of a grip on the struggle that has always been with us. But what about God? Where is He in such times? Is He aware of what's going on? Is He a spectator, or a participant?
Our natural tendency is to find someone to blame. Many have blamed God... speaking out that this is the judgement of God on a sinful nation. For such people, I say that you had better read your bible and pray for forgiveness... for the only unforgivable sin is contributing the acts of Satan to the Holy Spirit of God. If this is judgement, then why did God go to all that trouble to send His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins? Why did He say that His heart is empassioned for reconciliation and forgiveness? Did He change His mind? Is this a man that He should tell us a lie? Or is God so weak, that He cannot control the events of man? If your outlook on God is so embittered that you see Him as a giant ogre with a holy mallet, just looking for an excuse to beat us up, then you had better rethink your paradigms and ask Him to reveal His true character to you... and He will. But be prepared to find a God that loves you with an everlasting love, who has forgiven you, even you, for every nasty and despicable thing you have ever said, thought or done. You may not have blown someone up, but you did blow up someone with your attitudes... destroying their peace by leveling them to the ground with your words and deeds. And yet, God has loved me and you anyway... even when we don't acknowledge Him, it does not distract Him from loving us without conditions or rules.
What makes America great is that hand the of God has always been on this country, forging character out of adversity... building a determination to see the fruit of vision that He alone has given us. The character we possess is a gift from God... if you don't believe that, just look at your television and see the character of God revealed... such outpouring of love, compassion and unity that is so evident in this country today. In foreign lands, where the character of some countries is despair and fear, such events would feed that character, bringing even more despair and fear, and causing their destruction. But here in America, such events awaken and feed our character... forging once again the very strength and character of God that such nations hate. Those who live in hatred and fear can never understand the power of compassion, hope and love, these are as much a foreign language to them as that of our spoken words... and they will never understand it.
Our president is right... our enemies have awakened a sleeping giant. The natural giant we see is our country. But the supernatural giant is the church... the very representation of God in the earth. Our natural giant will deal with our natural enemies. But the supernatural giant must deal with the supernatural enemies... the forces of darkness who are responsible for authoring despair and fear. The principle of sowing and reaping is very real, and those who have sown destruction will reap their own destruction. They cannot escape it, just as they cannot escape God, who's presence fills the heavens and the earth.
For those of us who call ourselves Christians, there are things to do. First, we must give God His proper dues of honor and thanksgiving for being so merciful to us... for we have received great mercy and grace in every one of our lives. And then we must stand on the platform of His true character and covenant, as written in His word. He does not promise despair or fear, but victory and abundant life. He does not promise judgement on His people, but grace and mercy. He promises to forge His very own nature in us, if we only ask Him to.
If we only ask Him to... now there is the crux of the matter. We have gotten lazy and self-serving as a nation and as a church, focusing inward instead of outward as a people and as a nation. We must repent of such thinking and realize that just as the armed forces of this country are called to stand against our natural enemies, the church is called to stand against our spiritual enemies. And make no mistake about it, our spiritual enemies are just as real as our natural enemies. The only difference is that our spiritual enemies have already been defeated, at the cross two thousand years ago. The only weapon Satan has left is deception... to try to make us believe we are less than what we are. But read your bible... listen to what God is saying... "Rise up, you faithful of God, and take your place... for I have a place for you, reserved in heaven as a building block for a mighty people for whom I am returning... my Bride who will be awake and fully prepared for the coming of her Groom". God is preparing His Bride... not a weak, puny, dirty and sickly Bride... but a lovely Bride, a fine, strong, clean and healthy Bride, fit for the Bridegroom. That's us He is talking about... you and me. But, we won't take our place by accident. It must be deliberate and in accordance with God's word and plan. This is a time for discipline and diligence in the pursuit of God and how He plans to use each of us in building His church, His kingdom, His Bride.
We stand with every American in grieving for our loss, but not in despair. We share in the pain of our country... but not in solitude, for we are not abandoned. God is not done with us. The last chapter of our history has not yet been written. So, let's write it together... you and me and God. This is not so much a newsletter as it is a statement of vision... of the true spiritual giant awakening and taking her place to build and not destroy... to press on and not faint... to trust and not fear.
Be warm and filled,
Gayle and Hephzibah
A Tenacious Tree
We have been traveling more and more throughout our area for the last month or so... on the average of 3 to 4 times a week. And there is plenty to choose from... from the treeless rolling plains, to the lower Laramie Range to the lofty and rugged Snowy Range. We have sent you a few images of the places nearby, to give you an idea of what is here. And yet, we still feel inadequate for the task of presenting our home to you, and how we feel about it. But today, we found one lone tree in a field in the Laramie Range, perhaps15 minutes from our home, that seems to us to speak eloquently for us. So we are including an image of this tree with this message, as a visual statement of what we are saying in words.
As you look at the image, you will see that there is nothing particularly noteworthy about this tree... it is not big, standing perhaps eight to ten feet at the highest... it is not lovely, nor does it present much shade for relief from the sun (that's a joke, since the temps continue no higher than the mid 70's)... it has no majesty like the hundred foot cottonwoods of Washington Park, nor fragrance like the tall pine forests of the Snowy Range... so, what is it about this tree that draws our attention to write a letter about it?
If you look closely at the image, you will see that this tree has very little bark left on it, the result of years in the open fields of a rugged land. Most of its branches are now barren, bleached bone-white from the sun, and twisted from years of exposure to the winds that sometimes roar over the tops of the ridges, as this one is on. You can see what little bark is left is wound around the trunk and branches like a sash. And the living parts of the tree are bent down to the ground, the only place where they can find the substance of life, that keeps this tree going year after year.
The substance of life. I call this tenacity... the resolute determination to live, dispite all the adverse conditions that seem to come against it. This tree was germinated in an unfortunate place... just a "twist of fate"... a spot where the condition were not right for growing. You can see the area around the tree in our image... plenty of healthy robust trees, beautiful land, fields of grass. But, there are simply some places where trees do not grow... and we suspect this was another one of those places. And yet, here it is... living. growing.
This note is not about the harsh conditions. It is about what we see in this tree... the determination to live, to survive, dispite adversity. I once heard a great man speak on the subject, "we all play by the same rules". No message has ever struck me so concordantly as that one... that we all face life on the same terms... it's what we do with them that makes the difference. We cannot cheat our way out of life's "twists of fate". What applies to one person also applies to us. This tree may not have been planted in the best soil, but the conditions of life still apply to it, just as with all the surrounding trees, which may be planted in better places, or better soil, or near fresh water... whatever. Yet, it lives nonetheless. It may have been bent by the passing winds, or stripped of its bark by animals and sun. Yet, what we see in this tree is what we call "the disposition to live". If we look, we can see this characteristic in very many living things... when given even the tiniest sliver of a chance to live, they will.
As we see it, man is the only animal who has the capacity to talk himself to death. A few blades of grass growing up through the cracks in the sidewalks of New York... or an animal caught in the jaws of a steel trap... these both will find a way to live, even if it requires the sacrifice of a limb in the proess... these speak of the "disposition to live"... to choose life when there is a choice, without discussion or analysis. Simply to live.
We have found ourselves in the midst of many a storm over the years. We have not chosen the storms... we have simply chosen to live dispite the storms. If the winds tend to bend us a little, that's OK. If we suffer loss, that is also OK. We have never suffered loss that we regret, since we see the substance of life still flowing through us. This tree still lives. We found it particularly ironic, that just as the camera clicked, a small bird flew to perch on the top of this tree... as if to say, that it still serves a fine purpose for it. Dispite its old and bent demeanor, and obvious losses, this tree still has purpose... not just biological life, but useful life. We don't feel sorry for this tree, but we admire it for it's tenacity. We admire it for its life, and now our life in Laramie is full of it as well. This is what we are trying to say in these letters... that we are enriched with a certain appreciation for life here... and that our choices have been made, and that without regret. All the things we have written about.. starry nights, beautiful mountains, rare air... these all speak of the edge of life that keeps our appreciation fresh, and alive.
Be warm and filled,
Gayle & Hephzibah
Your Passion Determines Your Limits
We have recently corresponded with an artist regarding his work, and his written artist's statement. The following is our response to his inquiry about the content of his statement about his work. We thought it appropriate for every one in the workplace, not just artists, and want to pass it along... hope you can get something out of it:
You are on the right track... but, what is your vision?... what is your passion?... what can you say to draw even the most casual observer into your work? If if it the heart of your audience you are after, you must make your vision so enticing that people will not be able to resist... that way, when they look at your work, they are looking at more than a composition or color... they are participating in your life. Then, when they take a painting home, they are taking your life and passion with them as well.
The risk of rejection is of little significance when compared to the potential reward. I have often said that showing your work is a bit like taking you pants down in public. The point is, let it all out... don't hold back in revealing your passion, when it comes to exposing your thoughts about your life and work. Even though it certainly carries its own dangers, people are attracted to intimacy. Arm's length formality in discussion of one's work is of little use in the real world.
The bottom line, the limits of your life, are drawn at whatever point you choose to reveal yourself to the world. The world has much grown tired of platitudes and superficiality... and while the discussion of technique and "art" feeds the intellect, it does nothing to feed the soul, much less the spirit. So, determine how far you are willing to go... how desperate are you to share your life and work to reach your audience. After all, is this not the roll of the artist in everyday life? The work of an artist is no different than that of a musician or actor... touching lives every day in the most profound way possible. And you cannot separate your life, your passion or your vision from your work. So share your life and your passion. They will never look at your work the same again.
Just a few thoughts and philosophy from your friend.
These thoughts are also true about business, life, relationships... you name it. I have found that this quality is present in a unique way in Hephzibah. And since having her involved in our business in a more intimate way is such an advantage, I have recently made her my Business Manager, a task for which she is wonderfully suited. For those of you who know her well, you know she is well able to keep me in line with the tasks we have ahead. Thank you for reading this.
Be warm and filled,
Gayle & Hephzibah
Our Place of Rest
We have just uprooted ourselves from seventeen years of living in North Carolina to troop one thousand, six hundred miles across country to settle in Laramie, Wyoming. Since coming here, our conversations have often centered on the apparent insanity of starting life all over again at our age in a completely new setting... did I say new setting?... friends ask us all the time, "in the middle of where"? I can only respond by saying, "in the middle of rest for our souls".
So we ask, is the settling of one's soul so important, that it requires us to take risks that are so far beyond our capabilities? How many times have I found myself out on a limb, asking the questions we all ask... what am I doing here?... what is it that urges me on to do such things?... where's my saw? To find a true home... is it worth it, to risk everything, based on the simple instinct of seeking the refuge of home? Read on.
We actually tried very hard to make North Carolina our home, figuring that when we bought our house there, it would be the last place we would ever live. But we were never truly at home... in a house, but not at home. Then, suddenly, we just knew... as a flash of lightning from the east to the west, we knew we were coming home. Within three months of that day, our life in NC was no more than a reflection in our rear view mirrors, as we headed west. And now our life is in Laramie. Home.
But, getting settled is still rather unsettling. As we readjust our sights from a new perspective, we are finding that not only are the surroundings different, so is our vision. My work is that of an artist, a visionary. But, my vision is simply that of a man, called by God to a purpose. I realize that our move is only geography... but, there is something more to it than that. Being here is filling an empty spot inside us that has been missing for decades. Laramie feeds our souls. For someone else, it may be Seattle or Miami. Fine. Let your home feed your soul. But this short note I am writing here is simply to encourage you to pursue your home.
There is a substance that goes along with finding one's home that is a genuine driving force... passion. If you have been reading these newsletters, you can certainly tell that we have found a passion here. Our family and friends will tell you that we are the worst letter-writers on the planet, and we admit to it, to our own shame. But since being here, there is a passion that has risen inside us that absolutely requires that we express these things in words, and do that regularly. Passion needs release. It needs expression. To this end, we write this to you.
The Burmese princess, Tuptim, who a century ago was brought reluctantly into the court of the king of Siam, said to Anna Levenowen, "If love was a choice, who would choose such exquisite pain?" For us, there really was no choice... we simply knew where our purpose was taking us, and our passion provided the fuel to get us there. And now, this writing is part of our purpose... to vent our passion, not only for Laramie, but also for our life, our destiny. We were rooted out of our comfort zones, which we had carved out on the east coast for many years. We have risked it all to pursue our dreams. The unsettling crawl out onto the limb, that is required to do it, is our "exquisite pain", and our love is our passion, our need to find rest for our souls in our place of refuge, our home. The longer we live here, the more clearly we see our destiny. We did not choose it, but rather our destiny chose us... and gladly, at that. Our purpose is ordained by God to give our lives meaning. Now we are discovering that our purpose cannot be separated from our home, because this is where our passion is, and the only place on earth where it can be fully expressed. If we can correctly direct our passion in this place of our passion, then we are hitting on all cylinders, and living very productive and meaningful lives.
As we reread this newsletter, it makes sense to us. We only hope that it makes sense to you as well. Let us conclude by saying that we believe a full life must first be full of passion. And let me encourage you to not shrink back from your passion... that which drives and feeds your soul. The end result of our lives will be well recorded and our impact in this world complete if we can say that we risked all to pursue our passion, and then encouraged someone else to do the same.
Be warm and filled, Gayle and Hephzibah
A Night in Laramie
Tonight I want for a walk in Washington Park, which is becoming a twice-a-day ritual for me. But tonight was different. The temperature was two degrees as I left the house, with a soft breeze that made itself heard only in the large cottonwood and pine trees that fill the park. Muggins was with me, as usual... our cocker spaniel. He loves to bury his face in the snow and roll in it, especially the fresh soft snow that flies all over him, so he can shake it all over me when he is done. We usually walk around the perimeter of the park, but tonight was one of those clear nights that begged for something different... the weather report observed unlimited visibility, which is different from the other standard observation... that is, visibility 75 miles. Which is which? and, does it matter?
I headed for the interior of the park where I can escape the effects of the few city lights that lie around the perimeter. Muggins pawed at my leg as if to ask, what's up?, when I stopped in the midst of the shadows of the towering trees. I just petted him and said it was OK. When I stopped walking, so did he. Before long, my eyes began to get adjusted to the dark. That is when it began to happen. The brightest lights in the heavens turned to brilliant pulsing stars that were surrounded by innumerable lesser stars. The dim stars that were difficult to discern soon became clusters, made up of hundreds of stars, each now easily discerned. The moon was not out at this time to detract from the drama of what I was seeing. And, as I looked into the vastness of the universe, I began to see that on such a night, even Abraham would have wondered if the promise of God was attainable. Yet we know it is.
Since I left Laramie 37 years ago I have longed to return to this night. It is exhilarating to experience first hand, no matter how many times I see it. When I look into such a sky, I feel like I am falling into the arms of such a mighty God. I begin to realize afresh that He created all of this just for me... that I might see and know the vastness of His presence. How can anyone spend even one hour out on a night like this and not wonder about our own place in the universe and the eternal order of things?
I do not feel the effects of the cold on this night. Nothing could move me from this place of wonder. And yet, I do return to our home... the one that Hephzibah is quickly turning into a genuine place of refuge. Our home is snug and warm. My studio is once again humming with creative thoughts, as I am getting into a groove once again of work and productivity. I am preparing for a show in Atlanta, to open on the 30th of this month. I will do everything I can to come to Asheville during our time there in Atlanta. We long to see all of you, and don't want to pass up this opportunity. I will keep you up on all that is going on, and our plans.
Stefan in now officially a schoolboy. He started school this week at the Laramie Christian School. We had investigated a number of schools in the town, but did not feel right about any of them. Now he is getting a bible-based education where they actually teach the children instead of baby sitting them. When we take him to school, Stefan is quick to dismiss his "Omah" and "Opah" (us), so he can get on with his school. It is comforting to us, and especially Hephzibah, to know that he is where he belongs.
Life in Laramie is all and more than we expected. We are moving in real purpose with our church here, even though it will take some time to feel like we are a part of it and the community. Our thoughts are with all of you, as well as the intensity with which we miss you. We trust we will see you again soon.
Be warm and filled,
Gayle and Hephzibah Tate
To thrust the Art Business into the 21st Century
Just before we commenced our move out west, we were approached by a representative of Sothebys through an associate in Atlanta to become an associate for them online. Sothebys has a network of dealers and associates who work with them on the internet for the purpose of receiving works of art and jewelry, verifying and authenticating the items received and placing them for sale on Sothebys auction service. The timing was impeccable... as we at G.B. Tate & Sons were completing plans to move our facilities and services to Laramie, Wyoming. Now Sotheby's has representation in the state of Wyoming, something they have not had before. We will act with them to receive works of art and other objects of value, provide authentication and guarantees, and place them up for sale. We are able to do this either on a consignment basis as well as through our Trading Post as agents or as buyers. We have funds available to purchase works of art, so that the sellers will not have to worry about placing their goods out on consignment, having to worry about the time considerations and vagaries of price received. Granted, consignors will more than likely receive greater dividends on consignment, but the outright sale is appealing to many, as it represents instant money.
We welcom inquiries from anyone who has works of value, either for sale or just for curiosity, where we can offer our appraisal services. Cleaning out the closets and attics can often be a rewarding experience... but that is another story...GBT
The Trading Post
We have recently installed our latest and most exciting service...the Trading Post. This is the heart of G.B. Tate Sons Fine Art and Antiques...a simple format of communications that exemplifies our vision for using the internet as a tool for exchanging ideas in business.
When you use our Trading Post, the form does a number of things: first, it tells us what you have in mind for business; second, it automatically and immediately responds to you, both by internet and email, to let you know that we are here and will follow up on your inquiry as quickly as possible; third, it gives us a personal way to set the stage for interaction so we can pursue the business we both desire. Today's technology offers the means for us to conduct almost realtime discussion about business proposals.
The way we do business is to listen to how you do business...and now the Trading Post provides the right forum. If you would like to make an offer on our goods, now you can. If you would prefer some trading, now you can. If you wish to sell something, now you can.
In the heart of G.B. Tate & Sons is our desire to purchase works of art. We are always looking for 19th and 20th century paintings, drawings, sculpture and fine prints by American and European artists. We are also interested in fine collectibles, gold, jewelry and almost anything of value. Through the Trading Post, you can offer your items in a simple and convenient way.
We have funds immediately avialable to purchase your items outright, or we can sell them for you through our sales service. We are licenced auctioneers, under federal and state laws of North Carolina (NCAL #6407), which puts us in an increased position of accountability to our customers. This gives you the benefit of our position in the art market, a choice of working on a cash or commission basis and the security of knowing that there is a governing body overseeing us. We have established an excellent track record of sales on the internet, selling approximately 90% of the artworks we handle, and for solid prices. We have achieved this through a combination of network technology and network of private clientel, dealers and institutions around the country and the world. Our 33 years in the art business has graced us with many long term relationships that have proven to be our greatest asset and the foundation of good business.
All of this...our experience, technical develpment and relationships...are available for your benefit. Give our Trading Post a try...after a test drive, we trust you will find that it really is "better than an auction!"