Theron Humphrey is a uniquely inspiring fellow. He is the type of guy that creates his own destiny, a quality I greatly admire. He’s rooted in reality, but has dreams as big as continents. You see Theron decided one day that a chapter of his story will be re-telling small chapters of other peoples’ stories. Hopping in your car with your dog and your camera and setting out to shoot all 50 states in 365 days is a feat in itself. But, doing so with purpose means the life you’re changing isn’t yours alone. I met Theron in a similar way most people meet in the 21st century; online. Of all the places he could have been 207 days into his journey, the day I stumbled across his blog, was the day he was only 35 miles away. His advanced website allowed me to see his location as well as send him a message letting him know where I was. I knew without doubt that Theron was a man I was supposed to meet. While Carla and I carried out a small fraction of this journey we already had much in common – and thus, much to talk about. And conversations with Theron are easy. He’s old-fashioned, soft-spoken, inquisitive and sincere. He’s the type of guy that you start telling secrets to before you even offer him a drink. I only know one other person with that kind of remarkable ability and her name is Carla. Theron wants to know who you are, what you create and “what’s been getting you fired up lately”. That’s his favorite question to ask people, because it’s so open for interpretation. It’s the question he gets the most unpredictable answers to. Aside from his own congeniality, his dog Maddie is one of the finest pups you’ll ever meet. A loyal companion on the long road. She’s not only disciplined, focused and poised but she is the most humble celebrity I’ve ever met. Maddie has become famous but remains true to her art: standing on things. So when these two rolled into town I knew I was getting the opportunity to introduce him to the amazing city of Des Moines and some its most interesting inhabitants. As a self-proclaimed ambassador to the city and state of Iowa, one of my favorite things is connecting people, which I got to do for stories 228-234. We also had breakfast at Baby Boomers, strolled through the western gateway sculpture garden, rocked the jukebox at The Alpine, had tenderloins at the Peru Tap and drank whiskey at Carl’s Place. Since continuing his journey west we’ve stayed in contact, which allows me to live vicariously through him and his adventure, which you can do to. We also worked together to make him some tshirts which act as a fundraiser for his travels. So until Carla and I can get back out on the open road, I introduce to you Theron Humphrey and his Really Kindof Amazing Wild Idea. ~gc
“I don’t want to set the world on fire. I just want to start a flame in your heart.” The Ink Spots (1941)
I am so grateful to have this time with my niece and nephew. It’s very hard being so far away.
I taught Mia how to use my camera. She has a real affinity for photography. She says that she wants to be like her ‘Tieta Carla’. I don’t think she realizes how much that means to me. Mia turns five in a few days. Here is a portrait that she took of me:
Odon Pastisseria was founded in 1870 by Lola’s great grandparents. They converted the front room of their house into a storefront and started making candy. Lola grew up in this house. She remembers starting to help out with the business when she was 12 years old. Lola turned 78 last week. She is happy. Genuinely happy. She describes her life as being very full- and has never imagined doing anything else.
I am visiting my sister and her family in Spain for the month. She lives in a tiny town in the mountains about 20 miles north of Barcelona named Argentona. It’s beautiful here. I’ve been walking the kids to school and helping out around the house… I’ve been doing a lot of cooking! One of my favorite things about cooking in a foreign country is, well, the shopping part. All of the stores here are small and specialized. It usually takes going to a few to gather all of the ingredients for a meal. I’ve only been here a little over a week and people already know who I am when I come by to shop. Sometimes it seems that the shopping takes me longer than the cooking once I factor in all of the time spent chatting. It’s wonderful. Yesterday I made ‘ropa vieja’ for my brother-in-law’s birthday dinner. I walked down to the local butcher for the meat, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it is run by women. An all women meat market! Rosa, Carmen and Pilar are so sweet and so charming. I wish you could meet them.
I had the pleasure of spending two days at Morrow’s Academy of Martial Arts. It was hard not to fantasize about dropping everything, limiting my wardrobe to sweatpants and gis, and moving to the Quad Cities to train in Kung Fu. The Academy is not pristine or slick – it is genuine and full of character. Every room tells the story of the self-made man, John Morrow. John Morrow has surpassed many great feats (including breaking the Guinness World Record for the most back handed push ups in 60 seconds -123!), and is truly an inspiration to be around. He is a family man and is as quick with his wit as he is on his feet. If you happen to live in the Quad Cities …. Don’t wimp out and join the academy!
Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. ~Natalie Goldberg