The hot water tanked was repaired with a new thermo-coupler and I just enjoyed a deep steamy immersion in essential oils and epsom salts.  I indulged in the “breath blend” that Natilee sent me home with among the various samples, composed of peppermint and cinnamon.  My right knee is particularly tingly responding to the “deep blue” cream I applied a couple of hours prior.  It’s been giving me some trouble since I did squats at the gym a couple of weeks ago and I must learn to be more careful with my body.  I figured out the limitation in my shoulder as I was able to bench press without pain by narrowing my grip to no more than shoulder-width apart.  Sometimes I’m amazed my body is still able to function at a high level given the wear and tear over the years between manual labor and recreational activities.  I must be made of good stock.

Speaking of manual labor I began the day busting out a small planting job for a customer who had been referred to me by a friend employed at a florist.  When I showed up to purchase the plant material I was mildly shocked to bump into someone from many years ago.  Zoe had offered to help me pick out plants and as soon as I heard her name I responded, “There aren’t many people named Zoe, who are your parents?”  It was confirmed that she was the little girl I’d pulled from a quagmire some 15 years ago and had now grown into a lovely young woman.  She proudly declared to her co-workers, “This is the guy who saved my life!”  I replied that her life wasn’t in danger as she was maybe up to her knees, but from her 9 year-old perspective it was life-threatening evidently.  So we caught up for a few minutes as she showed me around the nursery sharing that she’s now married and I replied that I’m getting a divorce.  It was a bizarre, albeit reassuring occurence as I journey onward.

Thelma was uber-pleased with the results asking me for some of my business cards to hand out and mentioned that she’s looking forward to showing off her new perennial garden to her sister.  She also was curious to see her husband’s reaction to the new addition in the front yard upon his arrival home from work.  Her concern was him wanting to know how much it cost to hire a pro, and I assured her that she could tell him she paid half what she actually did and it would be our little secret.  I also clarified for her that she got a very good price for the job explaining that if I were working for a large firm I would have bid the job at twice what I charged.  Or in some instances, the job would be considered too small to bother.  It was a lucrative couple hours and I enjoyed the creativity converting a narrow patch of lawn into a splash of color with yarrow, lupine, fescue, speedwell, heuchera and echinacea.  The neighbors sauntered over and asked me for ideas and an estimate on their front landscaping.  In business a referral is always a treat, particularly when it comes without even asking.

After a quick shower I met up with Chris at his downtown office to work on the fundraiser event now just 2 weeks away.  He had a couple of female volunteers from a halfway house stuffing envelopes and updating databases as I logged on to promote via social media.  We packed up and headed out around town dropping off marketing materials and mailers to various supporters of the benefit including current mayor Byron Brown and former mayor Tony Masiello.  It was disturbing only for a moment to be cruising around with a couple of ex-cons in the back seat.  I made small talk with the ladies realizing that just because they messed up and got caught doesn’t make them scum or vile people.  I like to see folks get second chances, or even third chances in life, and they both shared with me that it’s difficult to get anyone to hire them due to their felony record.  They also gladly volunteer whenever there is an opportunity to abate the boredom.  They’re out of prison, yet remain imprisoned by the actions of their past and society’s mutual agreement that those with a record are not to be trusted.  I’d love to offer them work had I anything to hire them to do.  Of course, in working for me they’d not just be working for a paycheck, they’d also be getting some insight into why they created their life the way they did.  One of them had what many would consider the American Dream with a large suburban home, children and a prominent job until the arrest and conviction.  Yet, she seemed quite content to be living in a dilapidated home on the east side isolated from the life she once knew.

After dropping them off Chris brought me to one of his favorite ethnic joints for some Pakistani grub.  The spicy chicken, bread pakoris and rice delighted my taste buds as we dined in chatting with the clerk who took an eager interest in Chris.  As he talked about his background the young man was busy with a Google search on his phone verifying that Chris is a local business legend having successfully run 9 retail hip hop clothing stores before selling it off in 2005.  Along the entrepreneurial path he mixed and mingled in celebrity circles and continues to be active in the urban community where he was raised.  We had been joined by another customer at our table after he realized he too recognized Chris from radio ads he ran years ago.  Chris managed to sell a pair of tickets to the event just by being himself and it was an impressive lesson in credibility.  Chris also believes firmly in the vision of providing a summer camp experience for disadvantaged city kids, just as he had been provided growing up in the hood.  It is that sincere conviction that attracts tremendous support from community leaders, politicians and professional athletes.

I just cracked a beer as the Washington Capitals hold a 2-0 lead over the New York Rangers as they seek to force a decisive Game 7 in the conference semi-finals.  By the time my day wrapped up and I arrived to the beach there was no time to prepare for an online appointment I’d scheduled with a friend in Houston who asked me to complete a study with her based on a book entitled The Purpose-Driven Life.  I’d been sharing with her some insights as she’s going through her own transformation and she mentioned the program inviting me to explore it with her.  I remember coming across the book years ago with some Christian friends of mine who lived on several acres in the southern hills of the county.  They were all firm in their belief of its value, although I never did pursue the 40 day journey.  So it’s come back around and perhaps there is something for me to discover in its contents.  I did ask Karen if we could re-schedule as I really wanted to soak in the bath and then post this blog.  She was understanding and we agreed to give it another shot tomorrow morning.

In common wealth,