Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Old Man Across The Street

From a distance he looks like a stick standing upright. A stick that time has bent, crooked and twisted. He lives alone in the house on the corner across the street. Well, not really alone. His two small dogs have kept him company for as long as we’ve lived here. They follow him wherever he goes and yap at anyone who happens to walk by. And he would yell at them in a scratchy old voice. “Tina…Eddy…get the hell back here”. When he would get into his banged up old car and drive away to wherever little old men go in their banged up old cars, the little white dog would just bark until he would return. Well, the banged up old car isn’t in the driveway anymore. I guess he won’t be going to where little old men in their banged up old cars go anymore. And yesterday I noticed as he stood crooked and bent out in his front yard…there was only one little dog. As I turned to go back inside though I heard that scratchy old voice holler one more time. “Tina…get the hell back here”. Rest in peace Eddy. Rest in peace.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Can't wait to see Christmas

My daughter went off to college this year. Two hours away from home. I talk to her often, but I miss her dearly. Just before her Christmas break this year she called one night. She wanted to make sure the lights were up, the tree was decorated and the mantle and bookcases were filled with our collections of snowmen and Santas. Because...she said, “I can’t wait to come home and see Christmas.” Such a simple sentence. I can’t wait to come home and see Christmas. I looked around the house. The snowmen and Santas were all in place. The lights outside twinkling. All the ornaments were on the tree...including the felt Christmas tree with her picture on it that she made in second grade. I can’t wait to come home and see Christmas. I can’t begin to tell you the feeling in my heart when I realized that to my daughter...Christmas is...home.
It’s right here waiting for you honey. And it always will be.
(Written a few years ago)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

For the Birds

I hung a bird feeder on one of the trees in the backyard a few weeks ago. And since then, I’ve made some interesting observations about some of our feathered friends. Now Sparrows...they’re like the Chatty Cathys of the bird world. There can be 15 or 20 of them all out there at the same time just chatting up a storm. Talking about the kids and the price of nests these days I’m sure. And the regal, red Cardinal...well...he’s a bit of a chicken. He always sends in the little woman first to see if the coast is clear. Starlings are like the backyard gang of birddom. They make a lot of noise, act tough and chase everybody away. Now the feeder is too small for the Bluejays and Crows to perch on. So, they just sit on the fence and glare. Occasionally flipping me the feather. Mr. and Mrs. Mourning Dove are quiet souls. Too big for the feeder too, they just wait at the base of the tree for spillage. I’ve also observed that there’s someone else who’s been observing. The neighbor’s cat. And you can see it in her face. Hmmm...snack assorted flavors. After rereading this column I think I have one last observation. Maybe I’ve got too much time on my hands.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All The Laughter, All The Tears...

The heart has just one door. And when we open that door to joy...we’ve also opened that door to sorrow. Of course, we can choose just how wide we want to open the door. Some of us will choose to keep the door wide open. And there will be great joy in those lives...and great sorrow. Some of us will choose not to open the door as wide. For whatever reason they will not allow themselves to feel the great sorrows in life. They must realize though that they will never experience the great joys in this life either. I think Kahlil Gibran probably described it best in his essay on love. What he was saying was this. Those of us who choose not to open our hearts will laugh, but not all our laughter. And we’ll cry, but not all our tears. And maybe that is a much safer way to go. But the human heart is capable of giving and receiving great love if we let it. So, for me...I want to laugh all my laughter. And for that I’m willing to cry...all my tears.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Consequences. You know it’s kind of like that law of physics. For every action there is a reaction. Do something and something else happens. Do something good...good consequences. Do something bad...bad consequences. Now let me ask you this. What are the consequences of...not teaching our children about consequences? What happens when instead of showing a child certain behavior is unacceptable and will be punished...we give them a “Time Out” in their room with the TV and Play Station? And instead of showing a child that disrespect for anyone will not be tolerated...we just remove them from the situation so it won’t happen again? And when we do tell a child no...and the hissy fit begins... instead of disciplining bad behavior right then and there...we distract them to get them to stop? A child who grows up without consequences becomes an adult living without consequences. Every action and non action has consequences. Do something and something else will happen. I guess we have to decide what we’d like those consequences to be.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Ok...I’m really in a pickle about this. Whatever happened to all those wonderful old sayings that used to pepper our conversations. Some of them were funnier than a barrel of monkeys. And I’m not just whistling dixie here. Just between you, me and the fencepost, I think a lot of us would be just tickled pink if they made a comeback. And I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I don’t think our kids are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to colorful (in the good way) conversation. But maybe I’d better just mind my own beeswax and leave the art of colorful wordage up the creek without a paddle. After all, as a writer, I don’t want to cut off my nose to spite my face. In today’s world I guess you have to use todays words. So, I’ll just mind my Ps and Qs and write no one ends up giving me the cold shoulder. God willing and the creek don’t rise though, I just might try to sneak one of those golden oldies in every once in a blue moon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Hard One

A couple of years ago, I learned a pretty valuable lesson from a 5 year old. My nephew Nick. Now, Nicky has always had some very interesting observations and comments on this life we live. When you flipped a coin with Nick it was heads or buildings. Take a look at a penny some time. One Sunday, a visiting priest from South Africa gave the sermon. Nick sat on the kneeler as he always does...drawing his pictures. At the end of the sermon the regular priest started making the announcements. As he started to speak, Nick jumped up...and stated rather loudly...”Finally there’s some Michigan. I didn’t know what the heck that other guy was talking about.” But the lesson I learned came from when Nick was learning how to write his name. First he told me...Up down up...line with a dot...half a circle and the hard one. N i c k. Then he showed me. I watched...up down up...line with a dot...half a circle and...after a struggle...the hard one. Nick proudly signs everything now. The lesson learned...We can all deal with the up down ups...lines with dots and half circles of life....It’s the hard ones...that help us grow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who Is This Guy?

Most of us have an image of ourselves. This picture in our heads of
what we think other people see when they look at us. Well...most of us are
wrong. Believe me...this conclusion is from first hand experience. See, my
image of head that of a mature, dashing, athletic, rugged
man of the world. That's me. That's even the guy I see in the bathroom mirror.
Then I was handed a photo recently taken of my oldest son and I. "Isn't this
a nice shot?", my wife said. I was stunned. Who the heck is that balding,
graying, overweight, old guy standing next to my kid? What cruel
practical joke is this? That guy can't be me. I may be thinning, but that guy is
damn near bald. I'm mature...that guy's looking old. I'm athletic...that guy in
the picture actually has jowls. Hey, only old, English character actors have jowls.
Alright...jokes over. Who is this guy and what have you done with my kid's Dad?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Don't Let Go!

Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? Remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach as Dad took the training wheels off? The anticipation, the excitement...the fear? Dad would run along side holding you up as you tried to peddle faster and faster. Remember how red his face got and how he huffed and puffed? You’d be screaming, “Don’t let go...Don’t let go.” But he would...and you’d fall. You’d skin a knee...bruise an elbow. Then one time Dad let go didn’t fall. You were actually riding a two-wheeler. You were flying. You were lord of the sidewalk. And all the skinned knees and bruised elbows were a small price to pay for the feeling of the wind on your face and this new found personal freedom. The point is you took a chance. Sure you failed a few times, but when you were magnificent. Life is like that. Never take a chance and you’ll never fail, you’ll never skin a knee, you’ll never bruise an’ll never fly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adventurous...Ya Think?

So, what do you suppose was on the mind of the first person to think that an oyster just might be a good thing to eat? “Hey...lookee here. Crunchy on the outside...Chewy on the inside.” And what about potatoes and carrots and rutabagas? Who woke up one morning and thought to themselves, “I’m gonna go out and find a nice patch of dirt and then dig around in it until I find something to eat”? And then there’s wine. Did you ever wonder who was the first to think that a glass of really old, leftover warm grape juice might just hit the spot? Which brings me to ...Escargot. Who was the first to think to themselves...”Ya know, I’ve really got the munchies and I’ll bet those snail thingies would make a great snack”? One can only pray they had a nice butter, wine and garlic sauce to go along with that very first bite. All those extraordinary people who crossed those forbidden lines and had the courage to go where no one had ever gone before must have been truly adventurous souls. Or maybe they were just the losers in some ancient game of “Double Dare Ya”.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Time

This morning it dawned on me again. Mornings being the preferred time to have things dawn on me. Today really is brand new day. A yet to be used, twenty four hour period of time that I own. Oh sure, there are responsibilities and obligations, but it’s my life and it’s my time. I’m the boss. I get to choose. Now, of course, I’m going to choose to spend some of my time on my responsibilities and obligations, but the rest of my time this brand new day...I’m spending on me. And if that sounds selfish, well, maybe it is. But I only have so much time. And I still have hopes and dreams. Things I want to accomplish...goals I need to reach. And if I don’t spend some of my time chasing after my dreams, nobody else is going to get out there and chase them for me. Every minute I let slip by that I’m not learning, wondering, questioning, understanding or trying to reach further and my time...wasted. And I only have so much time. Today really is a brand new day. A day full of my time yet to spend. I hope when my time runs out, someone will be able to say...he spent the time he was given wisely.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

When Age Speaks

Our neighbors just put up a brand new fence. A brand new, shiny bright, wooden fence. And in this old neighborhood... it sticks out like the perverbial sore thumb. Which got me to thinking. Now, don’t get me wrong. New has some good things going for it. The biggest one’s new. But new can be brash and inappropriate. New can be noisy...even to the eyes. And new is always terribly inexperienced. Age has earned its place. Age has a quiet confidence and a proven strength. It has weathered the storms of time. And while age often shows its age...those same scars reflect its character. Age speaks with the voice of authority and says...”You can trust me”. Age has been there, done that and lived through it. Age has heard it all...probably more than once. And it has learned what to believe, what to hold dear and what really matters. Age can teach and for its own good...New had better listen.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Come Home When The Street Lights Come On

"Come home when the street lights come on." Does anybody say that any more? Does anybody do that anymore? Years ago…many years ago…It was the universal signal for all young cowboys, indians, cops. robbers and future Mickey Mantles to call it a day. "Come home when the street lights come on." It’s one of the original Baby Boomerisms. Long before drive-by shootings and dirty bombs…Enron and Gen X …networking and email…the Taliban and AIDS…9/11 and crack. "Come home when the street lights come on." It was the simple command of parents who felt that when night fell…there was no good reason for you to be out running around in it. You couldn’t see the baseball…It was too dark to figure out who was "It"…The hiding and the seeking got a little scary…and Mom and Dad wanted to know you were safe, sound and in the house before they settled down for an evening with Ed Sullivan, Lucy or the Beav. You know…maybe that’s one of the problems with this world today. Not enough parents told their kids to…"Come home when the street lights come on."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Questions For The Ages

I've been pondering some pretty heady questions lately. Maybe you can
help with some answers. For example, just how much is a smidgeon? Is it more
or less than a skosh? And do Old Wives ever tell the truth or do they just
run around telling tales? When you don't give a hoot...what do you give? A
holler? And in...As the crow flies...what if the crow doesn't know the
way? Hmmm...troubling indeed. These days, just how valuable is your two
cents worth? And if time flies when you're having fun...does it have to take the bus
when you're not? If time heals all...what heals time? And how many times
have you been told to sleep tight? the end of the day...if the truth
be told...what's wrong with sleeping a little loose every now and then.
Like I said...pretty heady stuff. Questions for the ages no doubt.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Good Idea

My wife thought it would be a good idea to put a new light fixture in the dining room. My wife has a lot of good ideas. Yep...really good ideas. Should be an easy little job...right? Take about an hour or so and voila...let there be new light. Unless you’re like me and feel that everything on the other side of a switch should be left to highly trained professionals. But c’’s a little light fixture. How hard can it be? So, I stared at it for about an hour trying to answer that very question. Then I put in a call to the Governor to see about shutting down the power on this side of the state or at least the city. No luck. Out of excuses, I shut off every circuit breaker in the house and went to work by flashlight. OK...connect black to black...white to white...ground to ground...and for God’s sake don’t let anything touch anything! I turned the breakers back on, evacuated the area, said a quick prayer to the patron saint of light fixtures...and flicked the switch via broom handle from the next room. Thank God nothing blew up. Now my wife is talking about replacing a faucet. My wife has a lot of good ideas. Yep...really good ideas.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Slanted Rays and Colored Days

Fall will be here soon. Arriving with her many colors like bright burning embers of summer’s dying fire. Beautiful, but brief. Marking the cooling of the air...the lowering of the clouds...and the coming of Winter’s silver blue. The slanted rays and colored days, as Lightfoot put it, stir many emotions. There’s a certain sadness about a lonely chevron of wild geese in the distant sky. And the rattle of dry leaves on shivering, skeleton trees. Night falls sooner and seems a shade darker. It’s a bittersweet time of memories...loves lost and found and old friends and family past and gone. For me...I know I miss my Dad more in the Fall. I do love the Fall though. Sweater weather and nightly fires in the fireplace. For all the endings Fall brings it’s also such a gateway of promise and good times. Soon will come the little ghosts and goblins of Halloween. The warmth and good cheer of Thanksgiving. The magic of Christmas. The hope of a brand New Year. Fall...the bright burning embers of Summer’s dying fire. The season of what might have been. The season of what could be.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grow Up...Never...I Hope

Is it possible for us to grow old...without growing “up”? Now growing older does make certain things inevitable. I mean, gravity kicks in for one. And some of us, though not nearly enough of us, will gain a certain measure of maturity and wisdom. And that’s a good thing. After all, there will be adult type decisions to make, check books to balance, Monday morning alarm clocks, tomorrows to plan for and children to raise. But can we grow older without losing our ability to wonder...giggle...imagine what if...or have fun, even at the risk of looking silly? I hope some of us can. And I really hope I will be one of those some. I see too many people who have grown “up” way before their time. The ones who don’t see Autumn’s beauty...they curse the coming of winter. They don’t hear a child’s laughter...they complain about the noise. And they haven’t wished upon a star in years...they’ve forgotten how. Can we grow old without growing “up”? Well...I’m going to give it my best shot. How about you?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deck Danger

I never realized that just by sitting on my deck I could be in danger. At least, as much danger as a falling acorn can cause. I swear, it was bombs away out there today. Acorns raining from the skies. Acorn Smart Bombs wreaking havoc on hanging baskets, bird feeders and gazing balls everywhere. Then I noticed that those acorns weren’t just free falling...oh no...they were being dropped by squirrels. In fact, they were being thrown by those pesky critters. And that one lefty had a damn good slider. Black ones, brown ones, grey ones alike...all standing together. United in one common effort. To bean whatever and whoever they could. Now, maybe I’m reading too much into this. I mean maybe...just maybe they were knocking those acorns to the ground so it would be easier to gather and store them for the winter. But I swear I heard one of them whisper, “You take the bald guy...I’m goin’ for the gazing ball.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Excuse Me For Just A Minute

Would you excuse me for just a minute? I’ll get back to my regular blog soon, but right now there is something I just have to do. I’ll be right back. So…Rush…old pal…there’s something I think you need to do. I really think this is important. I think you need to pack up all your medications and hop on a plane to France. Catch a cab to Normandy and take a walk on the sands of Omaha beach. Then a stop at Bastogne would be appropriate and, of course, Midway Island and Iwo Jima. And in each of these places I think you need to fall on your knees and kiss that sacred bloody ground. You really owe a huge thank you to all the brave young men and women who fought and died in these places to make sure you kept the right to make the very good living you do by spewing the fear mongering, hate mongering, race baiting half truths, rumors and insane assumptions you do every day. Tip your hat and say thank you Buddy…it’s the least you can do. OK…now where were we?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So Much More

The other day, I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in many, many years. She had the same sweet smile, the same bright blue eyes...she was the same person I knew so long ago. Except for one thing. There was so much...more. So much more to her much more to her being. When I knew her before she was a single young woman with hopes and dreams. Now she ‘s married, she’s raised a family, created a career...she’s lived, loved, laughed and cried over a thousand different experiences...situations...and events. There have been births, deaths, dreams come true and bitter disappointments that have all added to who and what she is now. I think that’s true of all of us. As we grow older we fill up with the life we live. We keep completing page after page of a never ending story that is who we are. So, while I looked at that same sweet smile and those same bright blue eyes...I wasn’t really looking at the the same person I knew so many years ago. Because after all those years...there’s now so much more to her her her.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trust Me On This One

There it is. Standing there so straight, tall and proud. Right in the middle of a newly mown lawn. You've seen it too. That one, lone dandylion. And it's not a new's an old, geezer dandylion. It's white, fuzzy head about to send its seeds to frustrate lawn manacurers for miles around. Now we've all seen that dandylion and I'm sure we've all wondered, albiet briefly, how in the world did the lawn mower miss that guy? Well, I think I've figured it out. I believe it's an amazing Darwinian mutation happening right before our very lawn mowers. A Natural Selection that probably began happening thousands of years ago when Neaderthal first began mowing his lawn. Maybe it's the sound of the mower engine...or the vibration...or the whoosh of the mower blade that warns them. Whatever it is, just before that blade takes its little dandylion head ducks. That's right my friend. Dandylions can duck. How else can you possibly explain that one, tall, proud, geezer dandylion sticking its fuzzy head up in the middle of a newly mown lawn? Oh yeah...Dandylions can duck. Trust me.

How Long Is A Moment?

How long is a moment? Sometimes it’s all the time you need.’s all the time you get. My father could register his displeasure with just a moment. When I first met her, all it took was a moment for me to know that I wanted to know more about this woman who was to become my wife. And all it took was a moment for me to know that I really didn’t like lima beans. Sometimes a moment is all you need. But sometimes a moment is all you get. That moment...that opportunity to tell someone you love them can pass all to quickly. Lost forever. That moment...that one chance to take a road less traveled can be gone in the blink of an eye. Never to come again. Looking seems my children grew a moment. Seize your moments. Live your moments. Everyday is filled with wee pieces of time...chances...opportunities...that only come once. How long is a moment? Sometimes it’s all the time you need. Sometimes it’s all the time you get.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know how it happened. They snuck in one night when I was asleep and downloaded it to my brain. The next day...out it came. “Don’t make me stop this car.” “You’re going to poke your eye out.” “You should have gone before we left.” Dadspeak. The mandatory language of Dadhood. I got married...had children...woke up one morning and became my Father. Just as he had become his Father before. Dadspeak is an ancient language. Oh, it’s evolved...”Stop running in the cave” did become “Stop running in the house”. The basic structure, tone, volume and naggability factor however, remain unchanged ‘lo these thousands of years. Dadspeak is unescapable. No matter how hard you try to avoid’ll get you. One day you’ll look at your child and...”I’ll give you something to cry about” will leap from your lips. And there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a Dad thing.

Points of Reference

Think back to when you were 5 or 6 years old. Remember how long a year used to be? It took forever for Christmas to come. These days the years just seem to fly by. But consider this. Consider your point of reference. When you were 5, one year was an entire 5th of your life. Today, if you’re say 40, one year is a considerably smaller segment. Point of reference. Keep it in mind when your child suffers his or her first broken heart. They don’t have the same point of reference you do. It’s their first. They have nothing to compare it too. Keep it in mind when your kid loses that first big game. He or she doesn’t have a history of wins and losses like you do. They don’t know they’ll get over it because they’ve never had to before. No matter how hard we try we can’t teach experience. And experience is everyone’s point of reference. A 5 year old will never have a 40 year old’s slant on how fast time flies. A 15 year old will never have a 50 year old’s understanding of whether a heart is truly broken or just dented a little. Point of reference. Think about it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wallpaper Love Test

If you’re at all curious about the strength of your marriage, ask yourself this one simple question. Can you wallpaper together? I’m convinced this may be the truest test of true love. Especially, if you live in an older home. You know, before they invented straight walls and right angled corners. The first step in the Wallpaper Love Test is...can you agree on a pattern? Preliminary skirmishes may give you a good idea if The Wallpaper Wars are about to break out. If agreement can be reached, the actual hanging of the stuff...they picked a good word didn’t they...hanging...will bring out the best or the worst. Can you line up those itty bitty blue flowers...the pattern you thought you agreed on, but he secretly thinks is way too girly...without wishing medieval torture on each other’s families? Can you balance on the top of a ladder, holding a piece in place, while your wife takes a call from her Mother or your husband checks on the score of the game without your complete, unabridged collection of profanity escaping from your clenched lips? Well...can you? If you can wallpaper together, there is not much that can put your marriage asunder. However, if you can’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean your marriage is in trouble. It just means that, for the sake of the kids of course, paint is a much healthier decorating choice.


When my youngest son was a little boy, he was...well let’s active kid. Incredibly self entertaining, curious and full of questions and answers. One day, at a parent teacher meeting, one of his grade school teachers told me that although his grades were good, he could be rather disruptive in class and that he needed to learn how to conform. Well, I told this teacher that I would talk to him about the disruptive part, but I prayed to God he would never learn to conform. This kid was so full of life he was literally bursting at the seams. Did it cause problems sometimes...sure. But this was a kid who should lead...not follow. Take the road less traveled. Conform? Never. Try...test...question...always with respect and honor, but push harder...reach higher. This was a kid who was not afraid to be alone. One day my Father was watching this kid tearing around the front yard. He turned to me and said...I hope no one ever breaks his spirit. Well Dad, if you were here today you’d see...they never have. It seems I’ve learned a lot...from my boy.

I'll bet they had a party

You can hardly see it from the road. The old barn. Or rather what’s left of the old barn. A crumbling skeleton fading away in some forgotten field of someone’s long ago dreams. A year or two from now I’ll walk down this road again and it’ll be gone. I’ll bet they had a party when they raised her though. A lifetime or two or three ago it was some farmer’s pride and joy. Built by the hands of family, friends and neighbors. It was shelter from the storms of summer and the snows of winter. It was storage for the harvest. It knew the sound of a fiddle and the laughter of Saturday night barn dances. And it was probably a big, old playhouse for more than a few generations of children. I wonder how many guilty young boys waited in it for a dreaded appointment with Father’s hickory switch? I wonder how many young lovers secretly met behind it for a moonlight smooch? I wonder how many stories it could tell? Well, only a few beams and part of a sunken roof remain today. And it won’t be long before the old barn’s not even a memory. I’ll bet they had a party when they raised her though.

Silent Night...Ah...No!

Our dog Casey woke me up in the middle of the night last night. Seems she had to go visit her favorite tree in the backyard. It was a nice night, so I stayed out with her, enjoying the silence. Until I realized that it wasn’t being a silent night at all. In fact, it was darn noisy. I could hear the rumble of trucks rolling down the expressway in the distance. The haunting wail of a siren off somewhere in the darkness. Far off car horns every few seconds. The sound of a red eye leaving a vapor trail across the moon. The world doesn’t sleep anymore does it? Used to be when the sun would set...the world would settle in for the night. The street lights would come on and day was done. Not any more. Now we have late night drive-throughs, all night cable movies and third shifts. You can do your grocery shopping, banking, pick up your dry cleaning...gamble your paycheck away even in the wee hours. And with the is open for business 24/7. That not so silent night got me thinking. I don’t believe the world is getting enough sleep. Maybe that’s why it’s so cranky.

Who are "They"?

Alright...just who are...”They”? “They” are quoted all the time. “They” have very specific opinions. “They” swear things are true...or false. And are believed. “They” seem to be very influential. I mean, I hear about what “They” say...what “They” “They” think...and what “They” believe all the time. Don’t you? But who the heck are...“They”? And is there more than one “They”? Because sometimes “They” seem to be on both sides of the fence at the same time. “They say it’s a good time to sell. “They” say it’s a good time to buy. “They” say she’s an evil tax raiser. “They” say she’s a heroic tax fighter. “They” swear he did it and everybody knows. “They” swear he didn’t and everybody knows that too. Well, all I know is that I don’t trust “They”. And I would suggest that you don’t put too much trust in “They” either. The next time you hear a sentence that starts out...Well, “They” said...find out for yourself before you stick that information in your fact file. Question the “Theys” of this world. That is, if we can ever find out who “They” are.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The more I learn...the less I know.

I’ve discovered an amazing phenomenon. I’ve discovered that the more I learn...the less I know. And the more I try to learn to make up for it just keeps uncovering how much less I know. Which in turn, makes me want to learn more. Which in turn... well...are you getting the picture here? This kind of learning and ignorance curve seems to work like this. A few years back, I set out to learn how to use a computer. And over the years I’ve done fairly well with it. I’ve learned to cut, paste and occasionally save the world from invading aliens. I’ve also learned that I don’t know a thing about the other gazillion things in that little box. Jpegs, bitmaps, caches, cookies, extensions, launchers and all that other junk. When I didn’t know anything about computers...I also didn’t know that I didn’t know about all that other stuff. Was it better that way? I don’t know. It’s like learning a new word and being very proud of yourself. Only to discover the word is in the middle of a sentence made up of other words you have to learn. And the sentence is in the middle of a page and the page is in the middle of a book that is in a bookcase full of other books...and on and on. The more I learn...the dumber I get. Amazing isn’t it?


The other day I was pondering...great word isn’t it? Pondering. It sounds so...oh, I don’t thoughtful. So deep. Real pondering takes time. It’s a slow, heady process. I mean, you don’t ponder about what to have for lunch or what’s on TV. And you certainly don’t waste a good ponder over what movie to see or if you want fries with that. Oh no. You save your pondering for the more meaningful questions. So, like I said, the other day I was pondering some of what I feel are the great mysteries of life. Like, what is an occasional table the rest of the time? Why don’t the clouds blow apart? Why doesn’t the wind ever blow the same way your hair is parted? What the heck was God thinking when he invented the mosquito? And if the universe is expanding...what’s it expanding into? Now those are pondering questions. And if you can get people to believe that you’re a world class’s a great cover for all your daydreaming.

When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son

There is an ancient saying...When you teach your son, you also teach your son’s son. Unfortunately, in so many’s so true. I think that’s why it’s so difficult for us to break the chains of bigotry, intolerance and the distrust born of ignorance. When the next generation is taught to hate and fear...the generation after that is being taught the same the same time. And so on and so on. And while we can change the laws...we have the fight of our lives on our hands to change...the hearts. It takes incredible courage for a son or a daughter to step away from a parents words. To question that authority. We are moving forward in our humanity, but it’s a painfully slow process. Because it has to happen one courageous young heart at a time. When you teach your son, you also teach your son’s son. Let’s pray that at least a few of our sons and daughters will be taught to think for themselves.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Choice

As I grow older, I’m realizing that eventually, I have a major decision to make. So...what’s it going to be? Geezer or Curmudgeon. Now, both have some pretty cool things going for them. Take Curmudgeon for example. A good Curmudgeon never has to make nice with anybody. He gets to be mean to dogs and small children. And he gets to keep all those wayward baseballs that land in his yard from the kids’ street games. Pretty cool. Now, on the other hand, a good Geezer gets to make up all kinds of tall tales. And tell them over and over again to the same person. He gets to be forgetful, talk loud, wear clothes that don’t match and flirt with all the pretty, young girls. This is a major decision that I’m glad I don’t have to make today. It’s a tough choice. When the time comes though, I’m pretty sure I’m going Geezer. Unless, of course, the world is experiencing a shortage of pretty, young girls to flirt with...or I’m running short of baseballs.


I was thinking about my Grandfather the other night. My Dad’s Dad. He passed away long ago, but I think of him often. I remember one Christmas when I was about 16 or so...Grandpa stood at the end of the dinner table and gave a toast about getting through another and such. And just when I thought he was finished...he went on. In fluent French. Now, I knew our family ancestry was French, but I never knew Grandpa spoke the language. And as I listened to those beautiful words I didn’t understand...I watched his eyes fill with tears. It was at that moment that I realized this was a man recalling someone or something from somewhere in a life I knew nothing of. Filled with celebration and disappointment... Love lost and found...a young man’s dreams...some coming true and some never realized. Now, I’ll never know why the tears fell or what the beautiful French words said...but ever since then, when I pass on old man on the street...I often wonder...if a young man’s dreams ever came true...and if he speaks French.

VIPs...or should I say...

I met some really important people the other day. Well, I can’t actually say I met them, but I did watch them as they sailed by a bunch of us good citizens waiting our turn in one of those lane ends construction areas. You see one of those lane ends up ahead signs and you pull over and wait your turn to go through like everybody else...except the really important people. I mean they must be really important...because they can’t wait in line like the rest of us. They go right to the front and force their way in. I figure they do this because they have much more important places to go and much more important people to see than the rest of us. Their time must be much more valuable than ours. Yep...that must be what it is. I don’t think they could just be arrogant, thoughtless and rude do you? Nooo...they can’t just be inconsiderate jerks...can they? They must be much more important than you and I. I must confess to being a very bad person though. Because when I finally do get to the front of the line and there’s a very important person trying to get in front of me...I don’t let ‘em in. Screw ‘em. Terrible aren’t I?

Sacred Ground

A tree fell in the back yard the other night. Luckily it missed the house although it did take out the deck, the grill and a section of the fence. Now, all the damage is fixable, but that magnificent 60 foot maple tree is gone forever. I counted the rings on the broken trunk and that tree was 132 years old. It got me thinking. That tree was a sapling when we were still grieving for the boys who never came home from the Civil War. It stood tall and strong as our soldiers went off to the war to end all wars. And stood guard still as our boys went off to...World War II. It saw the dawn of flight and man on the moon. It watched families in this house grow up...grow born and die. Some rings were fat...years with a lot of rain. Others were very thin...years of heat and drought. I imagined hot summer evenings at the turn of the century with neighbors sitting on the front porch sipping lemonade and tossing “Hot enough for ya”s” back and forth. Well, the old maple is gone now and all that remains is a big old stump. You know, I don’t think I’ll have that stump removed. To’s a little piece of sacred ground.