Remembering John

His real name is John Donnelley. A sunrise conversation a few of us had with John in the parking lot about surfing inspired me to write a poem about a fictional (kinda sorta) character titled “Surfer John.” This well known Seal Beach local drove through the parking lot frequently in his weathered Toyota Camry stuffed with piles of items with just enough room for him, a passenger, and surfboards on top. I did not get a chance to have another chat with with John since this day I took his picture as he studied the surf. 

Unfortunately, John was allegedly murdered in his home by arson a few days ago. I don’t know to what depths a man’s heart goes to make him take another man’s life, but instead of going there, this poem is in memory of “Surfer John.”

I met this surfer man at dawn
who introduced himself as John.
Hoping for waves but most were gone, 
so he kept chatting looking to bond. 

I studied where he parked his old ride. 
His car was filled with older things inside. 

I wondered if his belongings could share their pride. 
What tales they’d tell and secrets they’d confide. 
John said that he lived down the street 
I gather he’s says that to all those he meets. 

He’s really a millionaire being discreet. 
Looking for someone to sit in his passenger seat. 
To take on adventures up and down the coast
Taking surf safaris that only few can boast

My theory is that he’s got pockets deeper than most
searching for someone he could trust and host. 
Then again, he could be this guy named John who wanted to surf, and I let my imagination get away to share on this post. 

Read the Steller version below and if you find yourself enjoying my content, please tap the FaceBook Like button and Subscribe button to get your content delivered to your inbox. Thanks! 

1-Minute Monday Story “Shipwrecked”

Or should I say Jenny-wrecked? Jenny was the name of Ben’s tiny boat. Ben drove Jenny out to the harbor on calm days to have a few beers with either Phil or Stan. They both have said on many occasions that they would end up steering the boat back to the marina after Ben had one too many.

But this night, Phil was out of town and Stan’s wife said that Stan was “unavailable.” So this night, Ben decided this was the perfect night to spend with Jenny, a stack of CD’s he bought at a garage sale, and a case of beer. It felt like he would have the serene harbor all to himself.

Somewhere past 6th beer, Ben saw that Jenny was wandering out of the harbor and into the open sea. Then he thought that it was simply a dream. “I’ll just keep napping for a little bit, then I’ll wake up and take Jenny back home,” Ben told himself.

Ben woke up to blinding daylight and the thunderous blast of a water crushing the side of Jenny. In one motion of panic and bewilderment, Ben leaped off the boat onto the beach and ran towards small crowd that had gathered to watch the beached boat.

I don’t know how Ben managed to escape without a scratch and pull Jenny out of shorebreak, but he did. To this day, Jenny sits on a trailer in Ben’s driveway. Ben shares his story with anyone willing to listen: a story about his night with Jenny, a stack of CD’s, and a case of beer.

Notes: Thanks for reading. I plan on sharing a 1-minute story every Monday. I appreciate your feedback. Do you like my fictional stories more than the poetry? Do you prefer the fiction over the articles with words of encouragement? Thanks again!

Today’s Haiku

Light beams invite them
to walk through a simple maze
of breeze swept woodland

Thanks for reading my latest poem. When was the last time you took an easy stroll through the wood to get refreshed? Shouldn’t it be scheduled regularly? You don’t have to drive hours to find a sanctuary; just a park with a cluster of trees will do. Taking the time to breathe in an extra dose of oxygen from the trees is better than the daily supply of exhaust fumes while sitting in traffic. Being surrounded by earth’s tones seems to clear the clutter and suddenly you remember the wind and hear the songs of birds that you programmed yourself to tune out. Take a nature break. You need it more than you think you do.


“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ~Plato

And I was afraid of light as a kid. Ok. Not lights, but I was scared of changing light bulbs for the longest time. Then when I was 20, I got shocked after forgetting to turn off the electricity while repairing an outdoor light.  I got over the fear after that. Make it an awesome weekend everyone!

Thoughts Over Coffee

For the past few years, on every weekday morning, he sat by his apartment window to drink and think over his carefully prepared coffee. However, for many weeks he pondered life outside his urban maze. This day, in his quiet sanctuary on the 2nd floor he heard rural whispers as an image appeared on the surface inside his cup. 

He stared into his cup, picked up his phone, and called the office. He notified that he wouldn’t return for another week. “I’m not OK, but I will be,” is how he ended the conversation. Instead of heading to the office, he began to pack his backpack for his unplanned trip beyond the city’s boundaries to find the place he saw in a cup of coffee.

Thanks for reading my 1-minute fictional story. I wrote it a couple of years ago on and breathing new life to it on my blog. Please comment below and share your thoughts on this story. I appreciate your feedback.

Knowledge is good. Wisdom is better.

I think I know more now at almost a half-century of life than I did a couple of decades ago. I foolishly thought that I knew it all when I was out of college at 24, but the more I know now, the more I realize I don’t know much. There is a Jewish proverb that says that wisdom is better than gold.

Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge you have but applying the knowledge you have. You can know how to make money, but the wisdom is in how you use that money. You can be an expert at driving, but if you are constantly getting traffic tickets then that knowledge is not being maximized to your own benefit; let alone any good for anyone else.
Wisdom is a heart thing; not a head thing. Many times, wisdom is making the tough decisions 90% of people are not willing to make. Wisdom is selectively choosing relationships and endeavors that may not seem popular. Wisdom is the voice that keeps you from repeating that same mistake over and over. Many times, wisdom requires courage to see it in action. Wisdom requires courage because the decisions you make influence others linked to you.

The sign in the picture says, “You know more than you think you do,” and let me add that the greater challenge is to apply what you already know to benefit yourself and those connected to you.


Quotes by El Gran Queso

The 3 latest quotes from El Gran Queso:

“The only thing you are entitled to is a headlock. “

“I am going to get food truck and sell knuckle sandwiches.”

“The only place it’s ok for a dude to wear tight pants is in the ring.”


I get to work with kids as a children’s pastor at the church I have attended for over 20 years. I have accumulated a few stories about little people doing things that make me crack up and shake my head at same time.

While I was doing my churchy duties supervising the children’s department on a Sunday night not too long ago, Little Joel had been happily playing basketball for a while in the Kindergarten classroom until he had the sudden revelation that he had to use the restroom badly.

He did the pee-pee dance in front of his teacher to prove his sincerity and urgency. The teacher was so convinced that she personally escorted him to the restroom with his basketball in hand. However, Joel had nowhere to place his orange sphere that made him so happy just minutes ago.

But inside this tiled, dimly lit, and cold place there happened to be the perfect place to hold his prized object.

Swish! Score!

Read the Steller version here: