“The Music Of Friendship”
The Baddorf Home
Camp Hill, PA
Wednesday, August 31, 2011

iPhone 4 Camera
Photoforge2, Picture Show, Dynamic Light

Today I spent the evening at the home of my dear friends Robert and Carolyn Baddorf.  I’ve known Robert since the winter of 1995.  Through what began as a sort of friendly mentoring of him in the art of film and scriptwriting, we quickly became colleagues, and through the years I’ve watched Robert equal, or surpass, me in many skills, while successfully navigating the business world.

In 2001, prior to their engagement, I traveled to a state park in West Virginia with Robert, Carolyn, and Carolyn’s father and brother, to partake in an adventure week of traversing a forest, fording streams, camping, spelunking, and cliff rappelling.  It was quite an adventure, and we were led by Carolyn, who had experience in college leading such adventures.  She guided me past my fear as I plunged off a cliff while viewing a thousand feet of slope below me to a distant river.  And she guided us through a fascinating cave of silken rock.  One of my most interesting memories from that trip is when, after four days of not sleeping, yet enduring rigorous backpacking and body pummeling all day long, and feeling on the edge of delirium, I tried to be the first one to get to sleep under a loose tarp.  Within minutes, and just as I was finally falling asleep, I felt something lick my head.  I shot up quickly, grabbed for a light, and shot it’s beam frantically into the darkness.  Nothing.  Robert and Carolyn, who were beside me and also sitting erect, were staring at me.  I said: “Something licked my head.”  They glanced at each other with skeptic eyes, turned off their lights, and leisurely laid back down.  Bewilderment.  I wondered if a deer had wondered up to lick my head for some odd reason.  Hopefully, it wasn’t a bear.  I laid back down a bit nervous.  Actually, a lot nervous.  Darkness.  Was something creeping up again to do more than lick me?  Was the lick a taste-test to see if the licker wanted the lickee for an entire main course?  Suddenly, something raced across my body.  I leaped upwards again as I heard Robert and Carolyn both exhale grunts as the “monster” raced across them, too.  We all shot our lamp beams into the far-flung woods, searching for whatever it was that we heard scamper into the woods to our right.  Nothing.  But then I heard a licking sound directly in the darkness to my left.  I shot the lamp toward that direction and sitting beside me on my backpack was a strange creature that looked like an Australian marsupial: a mix between a squirrel, jack rabbit, and kangaroo, with big eyes.  But it was only as big as a squirrel.  It was licking the salt from the sweat on my backpack. Slowly a realization dawned on me and I whispered, “There’s more than one.”  Next thing I heard were zippers slamming shut and I turned to see Robert and Carolyn sealing their sleeping bags up around their faces and curling into fetal positions as our little “friend” raced up the tree.  I sat their feeling  exposed and vulnerable, as if by being the only one with skin exposed I would attract a horde of tree-dwelling, salt-licking, big-eyed, furry rats with over-grown legs.  Within seconds I was zipped up.  But sleep, once again, did not ensue.  Thankfully, none of the creatures followed us home.

Later that summer, Robert and I took a road trip to North Carolina to attend a spiritual conference.  Actually, that was my purpose.  Robert had a hidden agenda: Carolyn’s parents lived fairly close to where we were staying and Robert met with them to ask for their pioneer-spelunking-adventurist-daughter-who-almost-fed-me-to-the-salt-licking-creatures-of-West-Virginia hand in marriage.  They said yes.  The rest is history, as they say.

They began their relationship by meeting annually to discuss their goals for their marriage, along with how well they were doing in reaching those goals.  This always impressed me.  Their commitment to their marriage is admirable.  As time passed, along with a short stint in L.A., they settled back in the south central Pennsylvania area where Robert continues to work with partners in a home schooling, Latin curriculum publishing company.  Carolyn home schools and works at the local hospital part-time.

They have three children: Nick (6), Andy (5), and Skylar (3).  After an initial shy period in their young lives, I am amazed to see how gregarious all three children have become.  Tonight, Nick couldn’t wait to show me his self-taught drumming performance and he was astoundingly engaged and respectful when talking with adults.  And the endearingly sheepish Andy, surprisingly, has exploded into an energetic, charismatic, Irish Step Dancer.  And little Skylar pranced and preened with a miniature guitar, but only after helping Carolyn in the garden.  I was struck, again, by how important it is to expose children to the world of color, shape, sound, nature, gardening, sport, adventure, crafts, skills, and the Arts.  Intentionally casting as many good seeds as possible, one never knows what will suddenly and remarkably take root in a child and eventually blossom, grow, and explode into fruitfulness that will usher them towards their calling and destiny.  Children don’t want to be talked down to.  They want to be talked up to.  They want to be drawn upwards into maturity and adulthood.

After a wonderful meal (Broiled marinated chicken, homemade bread, sweet potatoes, salad, mixed vegetables, grilled potatoes, and an apple/blueberry crumble), and after the kids finally settled into bed (after several false starts), Robert and Carolyn and I sat to chat in the back enclosed patio, in the dark, lit only by a few candles and accompanied by soothing music.  We talked about work, challenges, hopes for the coming year…  And about the desire to rediscover the beauty in our every day “humdrum” lives.  Which is actually the reason I am shooting this 365 Day Photo Project.  And Robert and Carolyn have been pondering and thinking and reading about the very same idea: choosing to grab hold of the seemingly profane moments of life and turning them into sacred and holy treasures.  And this is when I noticed the glass vinegar and oil bottles reflecting light from the candles on the table, and slightly lit by the dusky, twilight, blue sky outside the window.  Vinegar is a symbol of pain and suffering.  Oil is a symbol of healing and health.  Candles represent Truth and the light in our body, soul, and spirit.  And in the Jewish faith–dusk is actually the beginning of the new day.  Of course, I didn’t think of any of these things until now, as I sit writing this, but these images are so appropriate for symbolizing that moment in time.

Good friends are a blessing.  And Robert and Carolyn remind me of why friendship is meant to be guarded and fostered.  And by watching them, though they were tired, gently guide, instruct, admonish, and encourage their children, they became a picture of how anything good and valuable and worthwhile in life takes time, patience, commitment, steadfastness, courage, wisdom, knowledge, peace, joy, passion, and love.

Kudos to Robert and Carolyn for doing well in building a family and home, and making friendship as varied and invigorating as an intricate work of music.