Thursday, December 20, 2012

God Bless the Christmas Sweaters

I wrote this last year, but if you don't mind I'd like to send it 'round again.----God bless the Christmas sweaters. All those Seasons Knittings displaying snowflakes and Christmas trees…cardinals on holly branches…snowmen and snowwomen and reindeer with red noses…even wise guys and mangers and good St. Nick himself. They start showing up around Thanksgiving and multiply through the season like little Holiday bunnies until just before Christmas…in any given church…in any given city…there comes a Sunday that explodes with a massive, magnificent display of wooly Christmas spirit that takes the breath away. A display that confirms to all mankind that despite this world’s greed and meanness… thoughtlessness and ego…selfishness and blindness…there are still good people. Good people who in their hearts, still hope that reindeer can fly and that angels really do talk to shepherds about wondrous things. Good people who still wish for Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward men. God bless the Christmas sweaters.

Monday, December 17, 2012

To Jack dog...as Amelia used to say

I want the world to know you were here Jack. I want the world to know you mattered. I want the world to know you counted. I want the world to know you loved us unconditionally and we loved you. I also want the world to know you could be a pain in the ass. You never did figure out that the buzz from the dryer was not an attack on your kingdom. Or that you didn’t really own the neighborhood and other people and critters were allowed to pass through without you giving them the what for…every single time. Or that someone ringing a door bell on TV was…on TV. I want the world to know you were a happy guy Jack. And that you charged through your life full speed right up to the end. I’m not quite ready to say good bye and move on yet buddy. I want the world to know you were here Jack…and that you were a good boy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Christmas Gift

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories. I hope you won't mind if I take a moment to share it with you again. -----Every year, just before the Holidays, the student government of my kids’ high school puts on a dinner for the residents of one of our local senior citizens centers and homeless shelters. It’s quite an affair with roast turkeys, mashed potatoes...lots of gifts, games and songs. My daughter, being Senior Class President, was very involved. She surprised me by showing up back at home about halfway through the party. As she rushed through the door I could tell she had been crying. She threw herself into my arms...shaking with tears. “Dad”, she sobbed... ”There’s an old man there with no coat and a different shoe on each foot. We have to do something”. So, we gathered up a couple of unused jackets and a pair of pretty decent tennis shoes and off she went. She came home after the party was over and stood quietly by herself in the kitchen. I put my arm around her and asked how everything went. She told me that when she gave the shoes to the old man he said, “Thank you honey. I know someone who can really use these”. She said, “But these are for you”. He smiled at her and said these words. “Thank you sweetie, but see here...I’m lucky. I already have a shoe for each foot”. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

World Travelers

So, I’m putting on my gym pants the other night, getting ready to do my nightly ten mile run on the treadmill when I noticed it. OK…I walk and trot for 20 minutes, but I did discover as I got ready that my gym pants…had been to Viet Nam. It said so right on the label. Made in Viet Nam. Then I realized my sneakers had been to China. It got me thinking, so I went to my closet and hush my mouth and call me Shirley…I was amazed. I have sweatshirts that have been to Honduras, shirts that have been to India and shoes that have been to Mexico and Brazil. Incredible. I found t-shirts that have been to the Dominican Republic…even some of my socks have been to Thailand. In the words of Charlie Brown “Good Grief”. I’ve never been to Europe, but I have underpants that have been to Guatemala.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tell Me Again

Tell me again of my childhood Christmas. Please...tell me the stories again. I seem to have forgotten somehow, just what it was like back then. Remind me of the magic. Help me recall how I believed. Reindeer could fly and you and I, found it very hard to sleep. The innocence, the wonder, the laughter, have I let them slip away. As I’ve grown has the spirit flown, to a place so far away. So, tell me again of Christmas. I need a child’s heart now. For how do I give the gift of love, if I’ve grown too old in spirit...to remember how?

Monday, November 26, 2012

I Never Heard That One

Seeing as how it’s my favorite time of year, I was amazed to find out that there are obviously well known Christmas stories I’ve never heard. I thought I was pretty well versed in Christmas lore, but I never knew. I mean, Christmas tree ornaments reflect the traditions, stories, songs and memories of the Holiday…right? That’s why we have little sleighs, stars, mangers, snowmen, Santas, angels and reindeer hung on our trees every year. All very significant stuff. So…surprised I was while shopping to see them on the shelf in the “seasonal” department. I’d never heard the story of the “Christmas Firemen” before. But there they were! Six to a box with shiny red coats and hats…complete with boots and fire hoses. Very cute I must say and even though I’ve never heard it, I’m certain that the story of the “Christmas Firemen” has warmed many a heart over the years. It must have. The “Christmas Firemen” have acheived ornament status haven’t they? The story probably goes something like this. Once upon a time, there was an elf named Stinky who liked to take smoke breaks out behind the reindeer barn. Then one foggy Christmas Eve he absentmindedly tosses his butt into a pile of dried reindeer poop and starts the whole thing on fire. Luckily the North Pole “Christmas Firemen” get there in time to douse the flaming poop using candy cane hoses shooting egg nog. Thus, saving Christmas for all the good little boys and girls and achieving ornament status. And everybody knows that you don’t get to become an ornament without a good heartwarming story about saving Christmas for all the good little boys and girls unless you’re a manger, shepherd, nutcracker or angel. So, I’m sure it went something like that…right?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Thank you for squirrels and pine trees and autumn colors and Altoid Smalls wintergreen mints. Thank you for computers except when they decide to reformat my work mid-document. Thank you for snow…and 4-wheel drive. Thank you for meatloaf and pistachios. Thank you for first steps and last dances. Thank you for pumpkin ice cream and Christmas trees. Thank you for the time I had with my Dad and the time I still have with my Mom. Thank you for music. And the ability to make it. Thank you for words and being able to put them together in ways that can move a heart or give a smile. Thank you for Josh and Andy and Jaime. Thank you for my beautiful Amelia and Bella. Thank you for my best guys Brady and Brennan. Thank you for and to my wife. Thank you for the joys and sorrows of this life I get to live. Thank you for the chance to try again tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Decorating Seasons

Ahhh…it’s here. Autumn has arrived and that signals the official start of the decorating seasons. It begins when we start decorating our kids with new clothes, backpacks and haircuts for Back to School. Then comes Halloween. We decorate our kids again, but this time we throw in the house and yard as well. All those scary Power Rangers, Spidermen, Brave Ladies, Elmos and Cookie Monsters make their way through neighborhood streets adorned with Jack-O-Lanterns, spider webs and tombstones. And then…here comes Thanksgiving. We keep the pumpkin motif going, but now we add in some colorful autumn leaves, corn stalks, a Pilgrim or two and of course, the turkey. Christmas may be the most fun decorating season of all. The world twinkles and sparkles, draped in magic lights and dancing candles. Christmas trees can be seen through frosted windows and Santa Clauses, snowmen and reindeer gather in snow covered homes everywhere. The decorating seasons…all too quickly followed by the holy crap it’s gonna be a long winter…season.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Full of Days

In the Old Testament’s Book of Job, it is said of Job that he died…”Old and full of days”. What a way to go. We should all be so blessed as to die…”Old and full of days”. Full of days that mattered. Full of days that made a difference somehow. Not just days that passed, but days that passed well. Days when you laughed all your laughter. Days when you cried all your tears. Days when you tried something new and succeeded…or failed, but you tried. Days when you tried to mend damage done by you or forgive damage done to you. Days when you loved and lost…yet were brave enough to love again. Days when you let yourself dream of better days…for yourself…your loved ones…your world. I know I’ve let too many of those days get away. I’ve left too many just taking up space on long forgotten calendars. I hope I can do more with the days I have left. I hope I can leave this world…”Old and full of days”.

Friday, October 26, 2012

There's a Warm Wind Tonight

There’s a warm wind tonight and the leaves are taking flight. It’s a joyful dance they do across the fields. The clouds hang low on the horizon in this late October sky...drifting slowly across the face of a golden, harvest moon. Soon enough they will be snow clouds hanging in black skies on crystal nights...drifting slowly across the face of a silver, frozen moon. Soon enough that warm wind will turn into one that blusters and bites. Soon enough we’ll all be settling in for our long winter’s nap. And soon enough will be here soon enough. But there’s a warm wind tonight and the leaves are taking flight. It’s a joyful dance they do across the fields.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Points of Reference

My oldest granddaughter is 6 now. So smart...yet so much to learn. Love you Mia. 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, October 17, 2012

Slanted Rays and Colored Days

I've been asked to repeat this. Thanks for asking----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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Every Now And Then

Every now and then, it’s a cold November sky. It’s a tear never cried. It’s a smile that was lost long ago. Every now and then, it’s the taste of the wine. It’s the passing of time...the shadows from the moonlight through the window. Every now and then, as evening falls all around and the beating of my heart is the only sound...I remember. Every now and then, it’s the dancing of a candle in the dark. It’s someone’s innocent casual remark. It’s a snow cloud racing with the moon. Every now and then, it’s the embers of a fire as it dies. It’s a face in a crowd passing by. It’s a moment that’s over too soon. Every now and then, as evening falls all around and the beating of my heart is the only sound...I remember. I’m spending too much time with ghosts upon this sacred ground. My apologies.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Did You Know I Was There?

Did you know I was there that day? I stood for quite a while on that ocean, windswept hill on Cape Cod. Did you know I was there? What brought you to this place…adventure…escape…duty? Was this your home or a stop along the way? What were your hopes? What were your dreams? Did you have blue eyes? Did you like to laugh? Were you afraid of the dark? Did you have freckles? Could we have been friends? Centuries separate us, yet you will always be a young woman taken too soon. And I remain the older man who wondered who you were. I stood for quite a while on that ocean, windswept hill on Cape Cod. I stood for quite a while on that sacred ground. Did you know I was there? The stone read; In Memory of Phebe Brown, Wife of Samuel Hinkley Brown, Died June 1st 1795 in the 23rd year of her Age

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Hope It's Rest...

I wrote this awhile ago thinking...praying...I would never have to come back here again. Well, here I am. The first trip to this nightmare was with a young man named Gus. Now, once again, it’s the same nightmare, but with a new name. He was another one of my son's friends from high school...and we laid him to rest today. At least...I hope it’s rest. And I pray he’s at peace...finally. This young man who will never see this world through an old man’s eyes. This young man who will never find the love of his life. This young man who will never hear his child call him Daddy. This good young man who, unfortunately, made some very bad decisions. We laid him to rest today. A lifetime too soon. Children are supposed to bury their parents. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. We laid him to rest today. For all of you who have been to this dark place, I can only pray you find some comfort in the arms of the angels. At moments like this, I know that God himself is weeping with us. We laid him to rest today. At least...I hope it’s rest. And I pray he’s at peace...finally. Know that you were once very much loved Ben. We’ll miss you.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Halloween Wind

It’s a Halloween wind that blows tonight. Can you feel it? Warm and sweet, but with just the slightest touch of frost around the edges. It’s the kind of wind that gently rattles drying leaves on soon to be skeleton trees. It’s the kind of wind that lifts outbound geese in chevron flight and drives the clouds low across a fiery sunset sky. It’s a Halloween wind that blows tonight. It’s the kind of wind that makes the evening shadows dance and the critters nervous. It’s a wind that whispers that a change is coming. Get ready. It’s a wind that whirls the mist around a gnarly old oak as easily as it does a faded memory around a lonely heart. It’s a Halloween wind that blows tonight. Soon the witching season will be here and restless spirits will once again take flight under the ghostly cast of a harvest moon. It’s a Halloween wind that blows tonight. Can you feel it?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Passing The Wallpaper Love Test

It's our anniversary. I guess we passed. From awhile ago----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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Once Upon A Time It Was...

Once upon a time it was a spaceship. Once upon a time it was a stagecoach…and a jet plane and a pirate ship and a circus train…a riverboat, an army tank, a submarine and a covered wagon. It took astronauts and cowboys and pirates and soldiers and sailors and test pilots on amazing adventures to the moon and Mars, the Oregon Trail, the deep, dark jungles of Africa and over, on and below almost all of the seven seas. It made daring rescues, heroic flights, dangerous voyages and narrow escapes. Once upon a time…a long time ago. Today it’s what’s left of an old wooden swing set out behind a long ago abandoned house. It’s weary and broken, the forgotten victim of a few too many hard winters and a severe shortage of childhood imaginations. Once upon a time though…it was a spaceship.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Wish...A Promise

The other day I was watching my three year old grandson Brady while Mom and little brother Brennan went to the store. After mandatory baseball, I’m Verlander and he’s Prince Fielder, we were taking a break on the front porch. After sitting there for a few minutes the little Prince got up and announced, “I’ll be right back Gwampa”. As he turned to head into the house he hesitated for a second, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t let anything happen to you OK”. “OK Brady”, I said. “I’ll do my best, but come back soon. I need you”. “Don’t let anything happen to you OK”. That was his wish for me. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” That is my promise to him. It should be a promise made from all of us to him. It should be a promise made from all of us to all our children. I know it’s a promise we can only hope to keep, but we can do our best to…hope to keep it. Imagine what Spaceship Earth might be like if we all made that promise to each other. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” I know…we’ll never know. There is one thing I do know though. A little Prince has my back. “I’ll be right back Gwampa…Don’t let anything happen to you OK."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Starting To Bug Me

This summer our kitchen has had an invasion of ants. I don't know if it's the drought that has them coming in for the water or maybe we've just got the best ant goodies on the block. They're really starting to bug me though...if you know what I mean. They also reminded me of a post I wrote awhile back.----Bugs...Hmmm. They come in all shapes and sizes. You’ve got your hard ones and squishy ones...big ones and little ones...your crawlie ones, flying ones, hopping ones and some that do all of the aforementioned activities. Some bite, some sting and some just buzz around your ears at night while you slap yourself silly trying to send them to bug heaven. Wouldn’t it be interesting to sit down over a cup of coffee with the Big Guy himself and ask...”So, just what did you have in mind here with the Bug thing?” Maybe He just had a bunch of leftover spare parts and nothing to do one afternoon. Or maybe He just couldn’t pass up a great buy on legs and antennas at heaven’s dollar discount warehouse. Or maybe He looked down and thought...”You people really bug me sometimes...Hmmm...Bug...now there’s an idea”. I'm guessing we’ll just never know the reason for our...Bugs. So, maybe we should just live and let live. On the other hand...s’cuse me while I whack that skeeter.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Almost...maybe...

The road never taken…The door never opened…The hill never climbed. The path never followed…The call never answered…The corner never turned. The words I was just about to say. The things I was just about to do. The chances I was just about to take. Maybe I should have…Maybe I could have. What if…If only. It was too hot to…It was too cold to…I was too tired to...I didn’t have time to. I’ll get to it…First thing tomorrow…When I get the chance...If I get the chance. Someday…Almost…Maybe…Damn. I’ll never know.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Words of Someone Else's Wisdom

A day without sunshine is like, night. On the other hand, you have different fingers. When some people get lost in thought they’re in unfamiliar territory. Politicians and diapers need to be changed regularly, usually for the same reason. I finally got my head together, but now my body is falling apart. They asked me how long I was going to be gone on this trip. I said, "The whole time." The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement. If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody. The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble. A friend in need is a pest. Smile, it makes people wonder what you are thinking. If you keep your feet firmly on the ground, you'll have trouble putting on your pants. It's not hard to meet expenses, they are everywhere. By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Good Ideas

Two weddings in one week. Made me think about this oldie. So, here's a thought for all you new husbands about the good ideas your new wives will be coming up with over the years.--- 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 back side of a switch should be left to highly trained professionals. But c’mon...it’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.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Not Yet

You can hear his voice can’t you? “I’m here. It’s all right. I’m waiting for you.” In late night dreams you can see him. Sometimes he’s that dashing young man in his uniform from the Great War. Sometimes he’s there, in the rocking chair, with the latest little angel asleep on his shoulder. Or he’s up north, fishing hat on and coffee cup in hand. These days he’s not far away…is he? “I’m here. It’s all right. I’m waiting for you.” Sometimes you can feel his hand taking yours. Sometimes you can feel his arms wrapped around you. Sometimes you can smell his Old Spice. He’s still in love with you. And always will be. He’s there…just beyond. He’s waiting…just ahead. But not yet. You are still needed here. There are friends who still need your laughter. There are babies who still need your touch. There are cookies that still need…no wait…there are people who still need your cookies. There is this world that still needs your presence. And there are my brothers and sisters and I who still need at least some adult supervision. She’ll be there Dad…but not yet.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chew On This

She’s a good egg. He was in a pickle. One bad apple. I’m toast. Sounds fishy. He’s the big cheese. Bring home the bacon. Better butter ‘em up. She’s as cool as a cucumber. Don’t be a couch potato. It’s the cream of the crop. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Did you ever have to eat crow? Or egg someone on? Were they full of beans? Ever been on the gravy train? The idea was half-baked, but it was handed to them on a silver platter. It was a hard nut to crack. In a nutshell, it was a piece of cake. It took a while, but we finally got him to spill the beans. It made him stew in his own juices. Take it with a grain of salt. He made a lot of bread. I had egg on my face. Duck!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

He Knows

A well loved member of our church passed away this week. Being fairly new to this church I didn’t know Mike personally. He’d been ill for quite awhile. His funeral was a great tribute though I’m told. The church was filled to the rafters with friends, song, prayer, tears, laughter and memories for Mike. That night for some reason a thought burned its way into my brain. He’s there. If there is an afterlife…if there is a heaven…he’s there…right now. As I sit here at this computer, he’s there. And he knows. If it’s all true, right now he knows it’s all true. If the soul lives on, his is living on right now. At this very minute he could be having a beer and talking letters with Paul. He could be having a cup of coffee with Jesus and taking notes on all the becauses to all those whys. I don’t mean to be flippant, but if it is true why not? Lord knows I’d be looking for some answers. No pun intended. I don’t know why it struck me like this…this time. I’ve lost many friends and loved ones over the years and never lingered with a thought like this for this long. If there is an afterlife…if there is a heaven…he’s there…right now. No more having faith, no more trusting beliefs…he knows.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Higher I Climb

The late Dan Fogelberg wrote this incredible lyric. “The higher I climb, The more that I see, The more that I see, The less that I know, The less that I know, The more that I yearn, The more that I yearn, The farther I reach, The farther I reach, The higher I climb.” I think when you stop climbing, stop seeing, stop wanting to know more, stop yearning to know more, stop reaching farther…your spirit begins to die. Merely existing and not experiencing becomes your daily bread. Opportunities are lost, roads are never traveled and the colors of your imagination fade to pale. Good enough becomes…good enough.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wild and Not So Wild…Life

Did you ever think about the differences in how wilderness wildlife and suburban, I guess not so wild…life…live their lives? Probably not, but I just spent some time in the Michigan North Country and I made a few observations. Here are just a few differences that seemed worth noting. Wilderness deer fear the Winchester. Suburban deer fear the Goodyear. Wilderness raccoons forage the forest floor for food. Suburban raccoons waddle over to the next garbage can. Wilderness possums play dead to foil predators. Suburban possums get dead trying to cross the street. Wilderness field mice fear the night flight of the owl. Suburban field mice fear the unnatural blue of the D-Con. Wilderness coyote hunt rabbits and squirrels. Suburban coyote hunt rabbits, squirrels and poodles. And wilderness weeds have achieved true freedom. They grow, spread, choke out other plants and reseed themselves virtually unchecked. Suburban weeds on the other hand, live in a world where Round-Up rules and death is just a squirt away.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Grandpa

On vacation this week with my kids and grandkids. Now, being a Grandpa is one pretty cool job. And when I hear a little voice calling "Grandpa....Grandpa", it's a title I hold very dear and hope to continue to earn. I often find myself reminded of my own Grandpa...and something I wrote about him some years ago.----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 year...family 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.

Friday, June 29, 2012

How Long Is A Moment?

A friend of my daughter, a soldier, a hero...was killed last week in Afganistan. Thought it might be a good time to take a moment---- How long is a moment? Sometimes it’s all the time you need. Sometimes...it’s all the time you get. My father could register his displeasure with me...in 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 back...it seems my children grew up...in 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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Those Curious Questions

Over the years there have been many profound questions asked through song. And every once in a while I find myself lying awake at night wondering…did those questioning souls ever find any answers? Were they really going to Scarborough Faire and if they were, did they remember him to one who lives there? Where was Joe going with that gun in his hand? Is love really all you need? Did that poor child ever find someone to help her make it through the night? Must there only be fifty ways to leave your lover? Was there ever a decision made about who will stop the rain? Did that girl ever get directions to San Jose? Did they have to take the long way home? And when those four guys needed someone…did they ever get any help? Did that lady find a way to live without you? Did anyone ever figure out where the broken hearts do go or who really wrote the book of love? And there’s one I’ve wondered about for years. Who did put the Bop in the Bop She Bop She Bop? Who was that man?

Friday, June 22, 2012

VIPs

I wrote this a few years ago, but I was reminded of it this morning. So, this is dedicated to the classy guy in the Porche and the lady on the phone in the Range Rover...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 know...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 mean...you 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?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Indignity Of It All

We humans suffer some pretty incredible indignities on our animal friends don’t we? There’s the famous, “Watch how long we make the dog sit there with the biscuit on his nose before we let him eat it” routine. We think that’s so cute. Wonder what the dog thinks? We dress monkeys up in doll clothes. We make bears wrestle folks at county fairs without eating them. Not fair in my book. We make horses dance. We call it Dressage so it sounds French and fancy. It’s dancing. We put leashes on cats! Talk about indignities. But here’s one I’ve never seen before. I saw him as I was driving home last night. The poor, little squirrel guy never made it to his meeting on the other side of the road. His little squirrel hopes and dreams ended about half way across. Now, that was bad enough, but to add insult to…well, it’s not injury it’s…death, there was a road crew spraying brand new yellow stripes down the middle of the road. There is now a brand new yellow road stripe running up the back of that smooshed little critter. They didn’t even bother to kick that little guy to the side of the road, they just painted right over him. You know, most of the time the indignity ends at some point and the dog gets to eat the biscuit or the bear gets to eat the person. Yellow road stripes however, are made to last for a long, long time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Watch Where You Step

I watched a baseball game last night on TV. And I guess I’ve just never noticed it before, but I had no idea there were so many ways…to spit. Seriously. And everyone was doing it. The players were spitting…the coaches were spitting…the managers were hawking loogies…the batboys…the ballboys…saliva sailin’ everywhere I looked. There couldn’t have been a dry spot left on the field or in the dugout. No wonder even the coaches wear spikes. It was a sight that…really didn’t need to be seen. I must admit though, there was a certain amount of…well…personal style being displayed. The shortstop’s upper lip curl…the left fielder’s between the teeth squirt…the designated hitter’s machine gun repeater…the dribble… although I think that last one was just a youngster making a rookie mistake. You know, a good, slippery, pro style sidewinder gone wrong. So, there’s another game tonight. Has anybody seen my boots?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Back In Town

So, I hear you’re back in town. You haven’t crossed my mind in years, but now I hear you’re back. Curious. I remember our first…hmmm…how should I put this…encounter? Yeah…encounter. A serious situation always calls for serious word usage. What was I…3 maybe 4…when I first became aware of your nightly presence? Sometimes under the bed…sometimes in the closet…always pretty spooky. Never really saw you, but I knew you were there…waiting. The rules were pretty clear though. No feet or hands hanging over the edge of the bed. I wasn’t going to give you the chance to grab any of my kid parts buster! And as long as the covers were over my head…I was safe. Covers made the bed “Under the Bed and Closet Monster” proof. No quite sure how that worked, but thank God it did. I’m sure millions of children have been saved by the “Covers” rule. You went away for quite a while, but returned to your usual hiding places when my own kids were little. Forcing me once again to invoke the “Covers” rule and nightly “Under the Bed and Closet Monster” reconnaissance patrols. And now you’re back once again. This time you’re trying to mess with my grandkids. So, let’s get something very, very clear here Bud. The “Covers” rule and nightly “Under the Bed and Closet Monster” reconnaissance patrols are still very much in place. This time though there is something else you should be very aware of and I want you to ask yourself this…punk. Are you feeling lucky? Because this time…you’re messing with a Grandpa!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Heavy Words

Some words carry more weight for me than others. These heavy words tend to touch me more deeply…make me think a little harder…make me feel things that quite honestly…sometimes…I don’t necessarily want to feel. Some can raise me up…some can take me down. Some can bring a smile…some can bring a tear. Cancer is a heavy word. As is Vietnam. Truth and Faith can both be heavy. Someday can carry a lot of weight because it can hold so much Promise…and Promise…don’t we all know… can be one of the heaviest words we ever speak. Never and Forever should probably weigh more than they usually do. And Love should never fall off our lips lightly because it carries so much Responsibility… and Responsibility could be some of the heaviest lifting we will ever do. Some words carry more weight for me than others. I think that’s how it should be though. It makes it a lot tougher to throw them around.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Old Man, Tina and Eddy

I wrote this quite a while ago. I drove down the old neighborhood street the other day though and I noticed the house on the corner was for sale. This is for the old man who lived across the street...and his friends.---- 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.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

His Responsibility

Now, if I could catch the young man who blew by me today doing about forty five in a twenty five mph school zone…I think I’d like to have a little conversation with him. A conversation about his responsibility...to me. Oh yeah. He definitely has a major responsibility to me. While we’re driving on the same streets, he’s responsible for doing his best to get me home safe and sound to my wife, my kids and my grandkids. That means he has to watch his speed. Now almost everyone likes to go fast now and then, but around me there better be a lot more “then”. It also means he should always use his turn signals so I know what the heck he’s going to do up ahead. And it means get in line and wait his turn in those construction slowdowns. Cutting me off to get in front of the line is not living up to his responsibility. It means save the phone conversation for later and the texting for the man cave couch. And please Sir, stay off my rear bumper. Give yourself some room to stop safely if that "nothing's going to happen"...happens. Mostly it means he has the responsibility to be aware that I’m on the road with him. And that I have a wife and kids and grandkids who I think would like me to be around for awhile. So, if I could catch the young man who blew by me today doing about forty five in a twenty five mph school zone...I think I’d like to have a little conversation with him about his responsibility...to me. And let him know I feel I have the same responsibility to him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Life Time

How much “time” is there really…in a lifetime? Is it measured just by the number of hours that pass between the day we are born and the day we are laid to rest? Or is there more to it than that? Maybe the “time” in our lives should really be measured by how that “time” feels rather than the ticks of a clock. After all, doesn’t a pregnant pause feel a bit longer than a fleeting moment? And what about all that “time” that goes by…quick as a wink? Then again, we all know how much longer “time” can take when we are waiting for that watched pot to boil…or our sixteen year old child out with the family car to finally get safely home. We all know how “time" can fly when we’re having fun…but haven’t we also all had our moments when “time” stood still? What about how slowly “time” passes during the nine months waiting for the birth of a child compared to how little “time” it takes until that child is grown? And while it does heal all, the “time” to mend a broken heart can be an eternity. So, it marches on and there is no stopping it…but how much “time” is there really in a lifetime? One thing is for sure though…we are all truly having the “time” of our lives. How much of it are we wasting?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More Stuff In My Head

I was reading about this guy who the writer said had made some very “inflammatory” statements. So, then this question started rattling around inside my head. Why is it that “inflammatory” means very “flammatory” and yet “insensitive” means not very "sensitive”? This, of course, led to a couple of other rattles. Do you have to “hearse” before you can “rehearse”? If you’re “disgruntled”, were you once “gruntled” or did you possibly have your “grunt” removed? Do you have to have a “course” before you can have a “discourse”? And if you didn’t like “discourse” could you choose ”datcourse”? Which leads one to ask…is the “pre” in “pretense” a “prefix”? Changes the meaning doesn’t it? Now it could mean the time before you were “tense”. With that in mind, what if you’ve been operating under “false pretenses”? Think about that for a minute. And what about this? You’ve got your mouse…mice thing…your goose…geese thing…what about the poor moose? Hmmm…

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Saw You Today

I saw you today and thought…how incredibly thoughtless…of me. I saw you today and thought…how self centered…of me. For one brief moment, seeing you today opened my eyes to how oblivious I can be…how much I take for granted every day…how small I’ve allowed my own little world to become…and how much life has given me. This new found compassion won’t last though. It never does. Life sweeps me along and soon enough I’m back to that same old thoughtless, self centered, oblivious, why me…me. I’ll have what I think are good days and bad. What I think are ups and downs. I’ll have those moments when…according to me…I’m the helpless victim of life’s unfairness. But I saw you today. I saw you today and thought…how incredibly thoughtless…of me. Someone like me needs to see someone like you. In seeing how someone has to live a life… maybe I can try to do a little more with mine.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Being What You're Supposed To Be...We Hope

A lot of Native Americans believe every living thing has a soul. And that’s really quite a beautiful thought…isn’t it? But it does bring up a question. At least in this slightly skewed brain. How does…what’s what…get decided? See, if every living thing has a soul, then before any living thing gets hatched or sprouted or birthed, there must be all these little souls floating around heaven waiting for their assignment. So, how does it work from there? Do the Angels whoosh a bunch into a special room…I think that’s what you must have to do with floaty souls is whoosh ‘em…where God does the deciding? The Boss Angel says, “OK you guys line up.” And then God starts down the line…”Let’s see…Hmmm…according to my “What’s what” list…you’re going to be an oak tree…on your way. And you…a rose bush. Squirrel for you…OK...down the line here it's bunny…insurance salesman…dandelion…NBA player…you’ll make a great butterfly…Miss America for you…ladybug here…mosquito…sorry about that, but somebody has to do it. And finally for today…last floaty soul on the right down there…it’s lawyer for you pal…once again sorry about that, but somebody has to do it. But what if some floaty soul takes cuts? And they don’t end up being what they’re supposed to be being. Now that explains a lot of stuff doesn’t it? No wonder that clown doesn’t get it…he’s not supposed too. He’s not supposed to be an IRS guy…he’s supposed to be a bumble bee.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thinking Back About Jack #1

Don’t know why he popped in my mind today, but he did. Jack...he was a big, old lug. He’s not what we wanted. He’s not what we expected. He’s not what we went for. So, what went wrong and how did he end up coming home with us? I think it went something like this. A few years ago my wife and I thought that it would be a good thing to get our 14 year old Bichon, Casey, (small, white, fluffball dog for those of you that may not know) a buddy. See, with both of us working, she’d been home alone a lot and we thought a companion would be a really good thing. So, we headed off to the annual Adopt-a-Pet weekend at the zoo. We were going to adopt a small, well mannered, housebroken, non-shedding, small pooping friend for Casey. We came home with Jack. A big, collie colored, long haired, old guy with a bad hip...and the gentlest eyes you’ve ever seen. See, when the Humane Society lady heard our story and our plan, she asked my wife if we would consider a senior dog. She said she had one that was a real sweetheart, but was probably too old and lame to find a home. So, we were introduced to Jack. One look and...well...forget our small, well mannered, housebroken, non-shedding plans. This old guy was coming home with us. And after getting to know each other Casey and Jack became Buds. We didn’t get to have Jack and Casey around for a whole lot longer, but every day we did…was a little bit brighter.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Things I've Learned

In T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King”, Merlin tells a young Arthur that the best thing to do when you’re sad is…learn something. Now, my life hasn’t been all that sad, but I do think I’ve managed to learn a few things. And if I could choose two of the thing or two’s I’ve learned to pass along to my grandchildren, these might be them. First, I’ve learned that love is not ownership. No matter how many of those love songs ask you to “Be mine” or “Tell me that your mine” or “I’ll be yours forever” or “Be my baby”…that’s not quite the way loving someone works. Loving someone means being brave enough to share a life…not run one. Loving someone is not taking of control…it’s giving that someone the freedom, the support …the chance to be all that they can be. Loving someone means that you think you just might be strong enough…to let the person you love be strong enough too. Second, I would hope my grandchildren could learn the great responsibility that comes with letting yourself be loved. When you decide to accept the heart and soul and being that someone is brave enough to want to share with you…you must understand what a fragile gift that is. If someone really wants to love you…really wants to share their time and space and fears and hopes and sorrows and happiness and dreams with you…you have to make it perfectly clear to your own heart that you are willing to accept the great responsibility that comes along with letting yourself be loved. If you can’t or won’t…please give them back the freedom to find someone who will.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Things I Saw Today 2

Today I saw a young doe lying still by the side of the road. Something I’d just as soon not see. An animal that beautiful and graceful shouldn’t be lying still and broken on the side of the road. Today I saw an old man and woman holding hands as they slowly walked along. A love…like the song says “Younger than springtime”? To me it looked more like a love aged in grace and wisdom. Hands that over the years have learned to fit together well because of all they’ve shared. Souls that will go on forever…together. Now, that’s something that should be. Today I saw a squirrel trying to get up the courage to make the leap from the corner of the roof to a tree branch that hung so temptingly near...or depending on how one was looking at it…far. He eyed it for quite a while before his little squirrel brain convinced his little squirrel ego that it would probably not be the smartest of moves he could make today. Can a squirrel “chicken’ out? Just wondering. Today I saw a cloud that looked like angel wings. And then I saw the angel…as he took chubby little steps all the way across the room to get to Grandpa.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Stuff People Tell You

How are you supposed to know if the stuff people tell you really is true? Seriously. How can I possibly know if the steak I had last night really was…”Grilled to perfection”…like they said it would be? What exactly are the standards of “Grilled Perfection” in steakology? I don’t know. And how many times have you seen “New and Improved” on a box or bottle? That’s a “Pants on Fire” if I ever heard one. How do you “Improve” something that’s “New”? Is that toothpaste I just bought really going to make my teeth 3 times whiter like the television commercials say? What if it’s just 2.75 times whiter? How would I know? They claim their mouthwash will kill 99% of odor causing bacteria in my mouth. I don’t recall anybody showing up to do a “Before” inventory. So how do they make that call? There’s that sleep aid they say will make me fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. First I’d like to ask…than what? And then…how am I going to know if I don’t stay awake and watch the clock? What happens if you don’t “Rinse and Repeat”? And if you’ve never met me how can you make anything…”Just the way I like it”? I don’t know…maybe life has just made me too cynical these days. But I’ll bet that just recently you too received a mailer from a store that said “Everything’s on Sale. Nothing’s Held Back” on one side. And then listed everything that’s NOT on sale and IS held back…on the other.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For Sissies

I’m telling you right now that this getting old crap isn’t for sissies. It takes a real man to stand right up…and shuffle off to the bathroom to pee three or four times a night. Yes sir! And you can’t be faint of heart with fiber. No sir! You’ve got to take it…take it like a man. A hopefully regular man. And these tests you have to start taking…geez. You feel like your back in high school except most of these tests end in “oscopy” and involve various bodily orifices that are usually much more comfortable with stuff going in the opposite direction. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those words the doctor spoke at my first sigmoidoscopy…”We’re only going up about three feet.” Sissies need not apply. I’ll leave you today with this. I didn’t write it…wish I had…but I think it’s most appropriate. At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants. At age 12 success is having friends. At age 16 success is having a driver’s license. At age 20 success is having sex. At age 35 success is having money. At age 50 success is having money. At age 60 success is having sex. At age 70 success is having a driver’s license. At age 75 success is having friends. At age 80 success is not peeing in your pants. - Unknown

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Their Song

It was a spring evening at the church social soirĂ©e when an old man stepped up to the microphone and began to sing. “Time and again I've longed for adventure...Something to make my heart beat the faster” Not the strong tenor of his youth, but a voice well aged from a once quite dashing man well aged. And a voice that was true…so true. “What did I long for?...I never really knew...Finding your love I've found my adventure” Was this…their song? “Touching your hand my heart beats the faster...All that I want in all of this world is you “ I wonder if she can hear him now. I hope so. He must have loved her very much. The old man sang on. “You are the promised kiss of springtime...That makes the lonely winter seem long...You are the breathless hush of evening... That trembles on the brink of a lovely song” There’s not much I can add to this…there’s not much I should. “You are the angel glow that lights a star...The dearest things I know are what you are...Some day my happy arms will hold you... And someday I'll know that moment divine” As he came to the end of the song I could see a single tear start down a weathered face, but I could also still see the twinkle in an old man’s eye. “When all the things you are…are mine” See you soon sweetheart…see you soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Practice

So, it was when I got up the other night to do what you usually get up in the middle of the night to do when it first happened. I realized as I got to the bathroom that I was shuffling along using small steps. You know, the way really old guys shuffle along. “Why” was my first thought…then ”Of course” was my second. I got it. A wave of understanding flowed over me and a whole lot of stuff began to make sense. It’s practice! That’s what it is…practice! Just like when I got to the kitchen yesterday, knowing I was there for a very good reason and then not knowing what the heck the very good reason was. Practice! I asked my wife the same question twice the other day. Now I know why. Practice! How cool is this? My brain is actually practicing…Geezerness! So, when my time comes…I’ll be really good at it. We all know that practice makes perfect and now I realize that my brain is practicing all the time. I’ll be a perfect Geezer. Incredible don’t you think? My brain is really working hard to get me in shape to repeat stuff, forget things and do the Geezer Shuffle with the best of them. I’ll be a Geezer’s Geezer. Hall of Fame level. Now, I don’t expect this Geezer thing to happen any time soon, but I’m telling you…with a brain that practices as hard as mine…I’ll be ready.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cool

Cool is still...well...cool. It’s an expression that’s been with us forever and will probably be going strong long after we’re not. Because it just works. Everyone knows exactly what it means no matter how it’s used. It’s cool, he’s cool, she’s cool...even...not cool. And there are degrees of coolness that can be used when someone or something falls short of being stand alone cool. You put a weasel word in front of it like “kinda” or “sorta” or you designate a specific something that reduced the potential coolness factor…like it woulda been cool if. Cool was cool long before groovy was groovy. Cool was hip before during and long after hip was hip. Side note...if you’re hip now, you’re probably not very cool. And when far out was in...cool was and still is the adjective of choice. And through the years though others have tried…none of those pretenders has ever been as cool...as cool. And when you think about it...isn’t that pretty cool?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Kids

As I heard myself say, “When are the kids coming over?” I suddenly had a very strange thought. The kids…are all in their thirties. The kids…have kids. The kids finished college years ago. Two of the kids have Master’s degrees. The kids have traveled the world. They own their own homes…and I still call them the kids. "They’re not the kids any more are they?" my brain asked. Well…it was my heart that answered…"Yes they are"…they’re MY kids. And always will be. My oldest is a father now with two beautiful little girl kids of his own. But I can still remember the blond haired, blue eyed little boy who used to hold my hand and kiss me good night. He’s still my kid. My youngest son has a Master’s degree and lives in Chicago now. But once, at a three year old’s birthday party at Chucky Cheese, said costumed rodent scared the bejesus out of said three year old. I can still see the pizza and pop scattering in every direction as he scrambled across the table to get to the safety of Daddy’s arms. I’m still the Daddy. He’s still my kid. And my youngest kid…my daughter…a Mom to two little boys of her own. A teacher and a holder of a Master’s degree in Education. But there are times when I can still see the same little angel who used to fall asleep on my shoulder in that old rocking chair. She’s still my angel. She’s still my kid. So yeah…for as many years as I have left I guess I’ll always be asking, “When are the kids coming over?” because they’ll always be…my kids.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life's Unanswered Questions

Oh...life’s unanswered questions. Those great wonderings we’re constantly having...knowing full well we'll never get real answers for the whys or wherefores. A lot of mine I’ve realized get asked as I’m driving. How about you? I’m always asking, “What’s your hurry...idiot?!” and “Do you always drive like a moron or is this a new thing for you?!” and I don’t know how many times I’ve asked, “Did you know they recently invented a device called a turn signal?!” But I get no answers. I also seem to ask a lot of them while I’m watching sports on TV. Perhaps you too have asked...”What the heck was he thinking?!”, “Are we watching the same game here?!” or “Are you kidding me?!” Life’s unanswered questions. Frustrating. And life seems to be full of them. “Who left the lights on in the basement?” Nothing. “Who took the last cup of coffee and didn’t refill the pot?” No response. “Which one of you has the muddy feet?” Silence. We ask...but we don’t receive. Life is full of unanswered questions. Just once, wouldn’t you like to know...”What’s the deal with that one shoe in the middle of the road?”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bugs

Bugs...Hmmm...Now that the weather is breaking they’re everywhere aren’t they? Bugs...They come in all shapes and sizes. You’ve got your hard ones and soft ones...big ones and little ones...your crawlie ones, flying ones, hopping ones and some that do all of the aforementioned activities. Some bite, some sting and some just buzz around your ears at night while you slap yourself silly trying to send them to bug heaven. Wouldn’t it be interesting to sit down over a cup of coffee with the Big Guy himself and ask...”So, just what did you have in mind here with the Bug thing?” Maybe He just had a bunch of leftover spare parts and nothing to do one afternoon. Or maybe He just couldn’t pass up a great buy on legs and antennas at heaven’s dollar discount warehouse. Or maybe He looked down and thought...”You people really bug me sometimes...Hmmm...Bug...now there’s an idea”. Or maybe...we’ll just never know the reason for our...Bugs. So, maybe we should just live and let live. On the other hand...s’cuse me while I whack that skeeter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Backyard Observations

Now that the winter seems to be behind us, activity around the backyard has picked up quite a bit. So, here are some backyard observations I’ve made that I’d like to share. I have observed that birds are really good landers. No kidding. Now, I know they’re supposed to be…being professional birds and all, but these guys are really good. Take a wee, small tree branch in a gusty wind...no problem. They’ll nail it 99.9% of the time. Very impressive. I also observed that squirrels can’t remember crap. This one guy took the time to bury all those acorns in the fall…takes a winter nap…and now there he sits in the middle of the back yard…head in paws…can’t remember where he buried a damn one. Like I said, squirrels can’t remember crap. And geese have no sense of balance. I don’t know how many uneven formations of geese in flight I’ve observed. Unbalanced flying chevrons with four geese on the right and only two on the left….six geese on the left and only three on the right. You’d think some goose would notice and give a heads up…”Hey Larry, you’re on the wrong side bud!” But they just keep on flying…unbalanced…like they just don’t care. Overall I've observed that observing is pretty cool. If you keep your eyes open…you see stuff.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Stuff In My Head

With apologies to my younger readers, but can you really…fool Mother Nature? And do you think they really did want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony? Hmmm…I wonder. What if we really were in good hands and they really were like a good neighbor? This would be a better world wouldn’t it? Ahhh…and if only it always was good to the last drop and did build strong bodies twelve ways…life would be so much sweeter. When the rubber meets the road though, you really do expect more from a leader…don’t you? And just a couple of questions for you to ponder if I may be so bold. Should we really…leave the driving to them? And not to cause any problems, but doesn’t a deer…run like a Deere? And there has to be at least a couple of things around here that say lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven. In the end though, when you care enough to send the very best…it’s always mmm…mmm…good. And remember, as we cross the friendly skies asking “Where’s the beef?”…parts is parts.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Things I Saw Today

This morning, I saw a rising sun turn morning dew into dancing diamonds on a freshly mown lawn. Then…I let Jack the dog in and saw…as he dashed across the living room floor…feet soaked from those dancing diamonds splattering grass clippings from that freshly mown lawn everywhere. Interesting how the very same elements…looked at in slightly different circumstances…can create two very different pictures. The romance can be so fleeting once the splattering begins. So, moving on, it was while I was driving to the studio that I saw the sign out in front of one of the local churches. It read, “I need Thee every hour”. I thought that sounded a little selfish though. I’m sure there must be others out there who might need “Thee” every once in awhile too. And here you’re trying to hog almost all of “Thee’s” time. Driving back home I saw that possum again. Still playing…”possum”. He’s getting really good at it. He hasn’t moved in over a week. Stopping at the traffic light by the cemetery, I saw an old man sitting on the ground with his hand resting on a tombstone. A weekly conversation I imagine. And when I got back home, in the backyard I saw a chubby, little, red breasted Robin…bob, bob, bobbing along…with about a foot and a half of toilet paper in its beak. I don’t even want to know where that might have come from…but that’s what I saw today.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Smile Because it Happened

I read a wonderful quote the other day. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Now, I don’t know who said it, but whoever you are...thank you. The more I thought about it, the more it did...make me smile. I remember the tears from a broken heart long ago. Sure, I cried because it was over, but thinking about it, would my life be as full if I’d never experienced the wonders of that love? I don’t think so. Should I give up the memories of sharing and caring... laughing and loving...just to avoid the tears of their endings? I think I’d be a much poorer man if I did. I remember well the pain of my Father’s death. I don’t know when I’ve cried more. But when I got past the tears, I don’t know when I’ve smiled more. I shared 46 years with the greatest man I’ve ever known. The joy of his life far outweighs the pain of his death. Tears come when something beautiful ends...but wasn’t it beautiful? “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seeds of Hope

I was at the Home & Garden store the other day getting some weed whacker stuff when I saw him. A crooked, little, old man with a walker slowly making his way to the cashier. I could see that he was carefully balancing a small bag of grass seed on the front bar of his walker. It got me to thinking. It got me to thinking about why a man of his age would bother with something like trying to grow new grass? Why would he still be willing to invest his time in something that would take time? Why, at his age, would he still be willing to put the effort in…give it the care it needs and hope it grows? That’s when it dawned on me…as things occasionally do…that this old guy was still betting on a good thing to come. This crooked, little, old man...his walker...and his grass seed...a statement of hope. And with hope, amazing things can happen. Hope can calm a restless heart. Hope can stir a weary soul. Hope can get you through the longest night and be the reason to rise in the morning and give another day...another try. Everyone can use at least a little hope. And I hope there is every reason to believe there is hope for all of us. If there isn't... why would a crooked, little, old man buy a bag of grass seed?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Christmas doesn’t come here anymore

Christmas doesn’t come here anymore. Neither does Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July or a five year old little boy’s birthday. Nothing comes here anymore. Nothing comes to this charred skeleton of what used to be a house in the middle of what used to be a neighborhood. There are no neighbors now. There haven’t been any for years. Children played here once. There was a time when you would have heard the sound of summer sprinklers and you would have seen folks sitting in the shade on the porch sipping ice tea. There was a time when you would have smelled leaves burning by the curb on the street and glanced up to see a chimney puffing on cold winter nights. Nothing comes here anymore. See, this charred bag of bones used to be a home. It used to be somebody’s dream. There was a time when this is what a young man would have been talking about when he promised his young bride that someday they would have…a home of their own. See that torn piece of wallpaper there in what was probably the dining room? Once upon a time, when it was new, someone proudly looked around that room with their hands on their hips and wallpaper glue on their shoes and said…”Perfect!” And once upon a time it was. Lives were lived here…first steps were taken and last words were spoken. But Christmas doesn’t come here anymore.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Storytime

Something a little different. I wrote these for my grandkids and they liked them. Maybe yours will too. Enjoy!

I wonder if a bug can be hugged?
Have you ever hugged a bug?
Now, most bugs are very small,
And you, of course, are very tall.
I think that might make a bug hard to hug.
And are just two arms enough to hug a bug? I wonder.
Now, some bugs bite and some bugs sting,
And some bugs smoosh quite easily.
Hugging them wouldn’t be a very good thing.
So, maybe we should save our hugs for Mommy and Daddy and Grandpa and Grandma…
And not bugs!

I think it was a bird I heard.
I heard a bird I think.
I heard a chirp and then a tweet,
And then I heard a song so sweet,
It must have been a bird I heard.

I didn’t hear an oink or a bark or a meow.
It wasn’t the squeak of a mouse or the mooing of a cow.
I heard a chirp and then a tweet,
And then I heard a song so sweet,
It must have been a bird I heard.

I’m sure it was a bird I heard.
I heard a bird…I think.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do Over

How many moments in your life have there been where you’d like to get a “Do Over”? Remember those? One more chance to change the outcome. One more shot at something or someone to make whatever turn out differently. There is one moment in my life that I still have dreams about getting a “Do Over”. Actually there are a lot of moments in my life I still have dreams about I'd like to do over, but this one pops up pretty regularly. I’m twelve years old and my little league baseball team is in the city playoffs. We’re playing South Side Shell. Now, imagine hearing that name again…South Side Shell…only this time it’s with James Earl Jones’ voice complete with Darth Vader echo. Not only are they all big and scary, South Side Shell shows up wearing full uniforms. Not kidding…full uniforms including socks and spikes. We had blue shirts with white numbers and bring your own hats. Some of us had socks…none of us had spikes. Their coaches even had full uniforms. Our coach was our first baseman’s big brother and he was wearing a “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies twelve ways” T-shirt. After watching them go through batting practice and some infield stuff, most of us were pretty sure they were actually a farm team for the Cleveland Indians. We played them pretty tough though. And the score was actually tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning. So, here comes the moment. Bottom of the ninth, they’re up with two outs and a man on third. I’m playing third so I’m not too far away from Mr. South Side Shell…and his full uniform. A huge, they said he was thirteen, but I saw the five o’clock shadow, kid steps up to the plate. The full uniform on third looks over at me spits and whispers, “Game over rookie”. I give him my best snarl and spit right back. It landed on my shoe. Here’s the pitch…and with a vicious crack of the bat here comes the ball…right back at me. I’m not sure if I closed my eyes or not, but dangit…I caught the ball. I spun…set my feet…and threw it twenty feet over the first baseman’s head and into the bleachers. Game over. And even though the ball did manage to hit the kid who stole my best girl at the roller rink the night before…I still dream about getting a “Do Over”.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stuff

Cap guns and coonskin hats…The peanut gallery…Phosphates and milkmen…Breaking in shoes and baseball mitts…Annette…Jack Purcell’s and Tuffy jeans…English racers and having to come home when the street lights came on…Party lines…The Lone Ranger and Little Joe…Lava and the White Knight…The linemen wore high tops and the backs wore low tops…low tops were cooler…No one played soccer…20 Mule Team…Corvairs and Vegas…Swanson TV dinners…The Moon landing and Apollo 13…Viet Nam…Ditto machines and carbon copies…Huntley and Brinkley…Viet Nam…I am not a crook…Hippies and Keep on truckin’…madras and bell bottoms…Far out and Groovy…Finding myself and rapping…The conversation not the music…Dick Cavett and Tom Snyder…Johnny Carson and the Slauson cutoff…Just looking back at some stuff my life has passed through. OK…enough of that…let’s move along.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Darndest Things

I vaguely remember…vaguely because I know I must have been just a wee, small child at the time…the Art Linkletter Show. There was a part of the show that was called “Kids say the darndest things”. And they did and they do and…they always will. My granddaughter’s description of Holiday travel comes to mind. In town from Chicago for Christmas, when asked how the trip was going Amelia said, “You know…Good bye, good bye, goodbye…drive, drive, drive…Good bye, good bye, goodbye…drive, drive, drive. My two and a half year old grandson made an observation recently that was priceless. See, we keep all the toys that stay at our house in the Florida room and it’s usually quite a…how shall I say this…disaster…yeah, that’s how I should say this…a disaster to say the least. One day my wife got tired of the mess and cleaned it all up. Put stuff away and brought order to toyland chaos. My grandson walked into the room, looked around and in little boy amazement declared, “Gwandpa…nice and clean”! It only took him about three minutes to return the room to its previous state of disaster. I came back into the room and said “Brady…what happened to nice and clean?” He slowly looked around…shrugged his shoulders…and said with a sigh, ”I broke it”. It’s not only kids though. We’ve all contributed our share of those darndest things at one time or another. In my advertising career there was the account rep who made the point quite dramatically that if I was going to use humor…it better be funny. It was President Eisenhower that said most eloquently, “Things have never been more like they are today than ever before”. How true is that?! Then there was my Dad. Now I’m not sure if this is a true darndest thing statement according to Art’s darndest things rules, but it made a pretty darned good impression on me. A few of my brothers and sisters (I have four of each) and I were sitting around the Thanksgiving table after dinner…complaining about our kids. My Dad sat at the end of the table quietly listening. He let us go on for awhile before he finally stood up…and looking at all of us…as only a father can do…said with a twinkle in his voice and his eye…”So…how does it feel”?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Hero

18 years ago this month I lost my hero. At the time though, I didn’t know how much of a hero he would become to me. It’s been mostly during the years since he’s been gone that I’ve slowly discovered how much he had really taught me about the responsibilities being a man… of being a father…of being able to love…and being able to be loved. Mostly by just watching him live. 18 years ago this month…I lost my Dad. Now, he wasn’t the smartest man I ever met…or the most creative…or a spinner of great yarns…or teller of great jokes. Those are all good things to be though and I admire those efforts. My Dad’s mission in life however, was not to be a great man among men. His mission in life was to be a great man among…me. And that he did. He accomplished that in my eyes by doing what I believe was sacred to him. He did it by always trying to do the right thing…in any situation…no matter how hard…no matter what the cost. Sure, he fell short sometimes, but he always tried. That was how he lived his life. And I think he hoped his life lessons would teach me to try to do the same. I know I’ve let him down more than once…but I’m trying Dad…I’m trying. 18 years ago this month I lost my hero. I’ve never told anyone this, but late in the evening of the day my Dad died I was standing alone in the dining room of my home looking out the window at a very dark, night sky. I remember saying to myself, “I just need to know you’re OK Dad, I just need to know you’re OK”. At that very moment a shooting star lit up a corner of that very dark, night sky. I saw another shooting star tonight. I’m still trying Dad…still trying.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hey Spring

Hey Spring...this is what I’m talking about. C’mon...you can do it. Looks like you’re getting your act together and startin’ to kick a little ice around here. Keep it coming. Turn it up to warm and get those daffodil heads poking up through the tundra. And hey there Mr. Red, Red Robin…we are ready for some full time bobbin’ around here. Even though Old Man Winter really showed his age this time around, it’s still been too brown and gray and window closed and all cooped up for too long. We need you to start getting on with the greenery. C’mon Spring...you can do it. Flex your crocuses and give the cold, old geezer a good swift kick in his frozen pants. And tell him not to let the garden gate hit him in the icicles as he heads north. Turn up the thermostat Spring and let the T-shirts begin. It’s tulip time. C’mon...you can do it. Get the sap running and the grass growing. It’s time to smell the lilacs and slap some mosquitoes. C’mon spring you can do it. Get out there...put up your dukes...and give the North Wind the old what for. This is what I’m talking about. Don’t turn back…don’t give up now…don’t turn into some kind of…Pansy.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just Wondering

Do you have to be gruntled before you can be disgruntled? Do you have to hearse before you can rehearse? Just wondering. Why does a duck flying low across a late afternoon sky always look like he’s late for something? Where does the time really go? Just wondering. When that big herd of birds in the field rises up as one and swoops left as one and then right as one and then lands again all together as one...who decides on that? Is that a group decision or is one guy bird the boss? Did the very first babysitters actually sit on the babies? Just wondering. Why don’t clouds blow apart? How do squirrels remember where they buried all those nuts? I never see ‘em taking any notes. Why is it that there’s never enough time to do it right, but here’s always enough time to do it over? Just wondering. How did the French get dibs on calling it “French” kissing? And while I’m wondering about it, what do you suppose was going through the mind of the very first person who thought kissing might be kinda cool? Wonder on that one for a bit. Why did God think that mosquitoes were a good idea? And finally for today, before Newton discovered gravity...what was holding everything down? Just wondering.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Evil People

Evil, evil people. Nasty, painfully poor excuses for human beings. I’m telling you it’s disgusting. If you’ve been watching the political advertising on television...you know. The only people running for office in this year’s election are evil, evil people. Like the guy wants to spend all of your money. All of it. He wants your children’s and grandchildren’s money too. Imagine that! Despicable. Then there’s the woman who wants to give every illegal alien a million dollars and a Chevy Volt. Even the ones from Pluto! And that’s not even a planet anymore. The American way? No way. And what about that other guy whose plan for America will kill every job in the country and give the Grand Canyon to China. What a cad! And, according to those television ads, there’s one woman who...I get shivers just thinking about it…wants to pass laws that will make sure everyone who is eligible...can vote! Everyone! A stateswoman...I think not. Evil, evil people. Why can’t, just one time, a really nice person run for something…somewhere? Someone who is smart...with a good heart...who would really try to do a good job. OK… I know...call me a dreamer.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lost In Thought

Lost in thought is what first came to mind when I saw him sitting there. An old man…lost in thought. Life filled with people carrying on unnoticed past a weathered face with its still bright blue eyes staring off into who knows where…or why. Sitting across from him though, I began to think that maybe…maybe…he knew the where and the why. I began to think that maybe he wasn’t “Lost” at all. Maybe he knew exactly where he was…in thought. Maybe his thoughts were of some special place from long ago or some important person from his past. Maybe in his thoughts, he was standing in some moment in time that somehow marked his soul. A moment that brought laughter…or tears…or changed his life. The birth of a baby…the death of a partner…a road never taken…a dream almost come true. A wish to do something over…a chance to take a shot at second chance. Maybe in his thoughts he was just spending a little time with a memory or two. OK…maybe I’ve gone a little too far and maybe he was just thinking about what to have for lunch. But just remember this. The next time you see an old man you think might be lost in thought…maybe he’s not “Lost” at all. Maybe he knows exactly where he is.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shake It Off

Let’s shake off the winter wearies like we would a tattered old coat. Let’s welcome back the sunshine from its long winter’s nap and open the windows to let in the tick, tick, tick of a springtime sprinkler and the sound of a ballgame drifting across the backyards from a radio on someone’s deck. It’s time to lower our shoulders from the tensions of the silver shivers and raise our eyes from the frozen sidewalks to watch a sweet breeze blow clouds around a bright blue sky. Let’s get on with this season of unclenching and leave winter’s baggage behind. Let’s get on with doing a little spring cleaning of the heart and soul so that we’ll have room for some fresh thoughts and new ideas. Let’s shake off the winter wearies like a tattered old coat. The gift of another time around has been given to all of us. All the cold and dark has melted away. All roads are open to us now. This is the season to choose one...and see where it leads.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

St. Elmo

I was going through some old song lyrics the other night when I came upon a song I’d written years ago that I’d totally forgotten about. I wrote it after spending a lot of time in an old silver mining ghost town in Colorado. St. Elmo was its name. No relation to Sesame Street, but it was an incredibly fascinating place in itself. See, when the price of silver dropped in the late 1800s, the folks of St. Elmo just locked their doors and went back down the mountain convinced the price would rise again soon and they’d be back. It never did...and they never returned. So, there were houses still full of furniture, barns that still held wagons and tools, stores that still had some canned goods on the shelves and streets haunted by broken souls with broken silver dreams. The cemetery at St. Elmo was just behind the town hidden in a small grove of Aspens. It wasn’t very big...St. Elmo wasn’t very big. It was however, filled mostly with children. Victims of small pox, mumps, measles and the flu…all deadly to the children of the late 1800s. If the miner’s didn’t strike it rich they moved on. When the miners moved on the storekeepers moved on. And when the price of silver dropped the rest of the town moved on. These children couldn’t move on though. St. Elmo would be their final resting place. I remember standing there among the carved wooden and simple stone markers, some with wrought iron cradles over the graves. One cracked wooden marker caught my eye…Sadie Mullins…Borned May 5, 1879… Passed Dec. 24, 1881. That's all it said. Rest in peace little girl. It was a joy to remember you.
“Sometimes in the evening,
If the wind is blowing right,
You’ll hear the banshee in the canyon,
And she’s crying like a child in the night.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Little Time To Think

In the time that passed from the moment my foot first started slipping on the ice until I found myself firmly deposited on my keester in a most ungraceful manner, I found the number of thoughts and pictures that can pass through one’s brain to be truly amazing. Now, it goes without saying this whole experience starts with some version of “What the (your choice of profanity goes here!).” Quickly moving on to “Stick out your hand and break your fall…no wait…you might break your wrist. You can’t work on the computer with a broken wrist!...Actually I could though…It would just be a little slower...C’mon…think…wait…Can I do a mid-fall adjustment…a midair pirouette if you will…and find something softer to land on?...Hey…I was a jock…once...Nope…This is gonna hurt…Oh man what if I break my butt?...I definitely can’t work with a broken butt…How will I pay the bills?...Will my insurance cover a broken butt?...What about the children?…Gotta call my agent….Oh no…New cell phone’s in my back pocket…Broken butt and broken cell phone…crap!... She was cute though wasn’t she? …That sales associate….and very knowledgeable about cell phone service…Hmmm…Where was I?...Oh right….keester about to meet frozen turf….I wonder if anyone is watching?...Try to look cool…Hey that’s my foot…Way up there…”
Houston…the eagle has landed. And it’s going to leave a mark.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Casey

Casey’s been gone for quite awhile now so I don't know why she's on my mind today, but she is. So, would you indulge me for a moment? She shared our lives for over 16 years. I still carry her name tag on my key chain. Our little, white ball of unconditional love had a pretty good life though. I mean, I can’t speak for the old girl herself, but at least, I think she did. She successfully raised three human children. She kept three different back yards free of marauding squirrels. She devoted years to the neighborhood watch program taking it upon herself to personally warn everyone of the presence of strange dogs out walking their humans. She even did some government work…announcing the daily arrival of the U.S. Mail. As the years went by though, I could see the cataracts in her eyes when she looked at me. I couldn’t help but notice the limp in her step when she’d been lying on her arthritic front leg for too long. In her last few years she seemed to need a little more comforting and reassurance from time to time. And that was just fine. We owed her that much and more after all those years of her loving us. Someone once said, why is it that even though a dog doesn’t get to live very long...it still has to die old? I don’t know. What I do know is that Casey showed us all how to grow old with grace and dignity. And I hope I can do the same and never stop loving…or getting a kick out of chasing that occasional squirrel. I miss you girl.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Not Your Turn

Last night during dinner the phone rang. I answered with my usual pleasant “Hello”. No response. Another “Hello” and still nothing. Then I heard it. That telltale, telemarketer click. The sound that mass dialing computer makes when it actually gets through. Do you get as annoyed as I do? Well, I had actually prepared a little speech for a moment like this. And it went something like this. “Hello…Yes…excuse me and I’m extremely sorry, but…It’s not your turn to talk to me. It’s dinnertime. It’s my wife’s turn to talk to me. It’s my kid’s turn to talk to me. It’s my dog’s turn to talk to me, but it’s not your turn to talk to me. I’m sure you’re a swell person who’s just trying to do your job, but it’s not your turn to talk to me. I’m sure your product, service, opinion or candidate is wonderful. I’m sure you can save me time, money and heartbreak. I’m sure that what you have to say will change my life forever and get me new windows for half price, but…it’s not your turn to talk to me. So, thank you very much. Good bye. Good luck. Have a nice day.” That was my speech…and a good one too if I do say so myself…but it was dinnertime...so I just hung up on them.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Believe?

So, what do you believe in I was asked. Well, I said, the thing I probably believe in most is that I’m not too sure about what I believe in. We could start with this though. I believe in greed. I see it every day in some of our corporations. I believe in the lust for power. I see that every day in a lot of our politicians. I believe there are a lot of folks who really don’t believe in the things they say they believe in. I believe dandelions can duck…as I’ve talked about in an earlier post. How else do you explain the snowball headed, geezer dandelion standing in the middle of a new mown lawn? I believe old folks aren’t asked their opinion enough. I believe babies know more than they let on. I believe time goes faster as we get older. I believe men should cry a little more often. I believe in my grandchildren’s innocence. I believe my father was a great man. I believe the deer around our place should be taught a lot better how to really look both ways. I believe a broken heart can teach…if allowed. I believe my wife is my best friend. I also believe I’ve said enough for now.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Home

I was thinking the other day about a time…not so long ago it seems…that my daughter came home from school for a weekend of shopping with Mom, home cooking and free laundry. And when the weekend was over, she was just about to head back to school when she said, “I’m not looking forward to this drive home””. I thought to myself, wait a minute...wait one darned minute here. There is something terribly wrong here. So, I quickly reminded her that where she was standing was home…and where she was going was school. She laughed. A kiss and a hug good bye and she was off...to school. I remember how her words stayed with me though and I found myself wondering…when does home stop being home for them? And what would that feel like for me? Well, that was a few years ago and now they’re all grown and gone. They all call somewhere else home now. And I’m OK with it. I’m OK with it because deep down in my soul I know…this will always be their home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Turning Point?

Now, I’m not quite sure what to make of this. I mean maybe it’s no big deal at all. Then again…is this a historic moment? Has a page turned in this story I call life? I discovered it this morning. Well, I didn’t really discover it…it was sitting right there. Sitting right there, where my rather expensive, icy frost blue, keep me feeling Rocky Mountain fresh for those unexpected moments mouthwash usually sits was…a store brand “mint” mouthwash… with a clearance price tag on it. Ahhh…time out. Has something changed here? Do I no longer need to be Rocky Mountain fresh? Should I quit expecting…unexpected moments? Tomorrow morning will I find Calvin Klein’s Escape replaced with Aqua Velva or worse…Lectric Shave? Is she trying to tell me I have no more buckles to swash? Has my dashingness…dashed? Ok…I know I’m a little rounder than I used to be. There are a few less hairs on the top of my head than in the younger years. OK…quite a few. And maybe every once in awhile I might need a little advance notice for those unexpected moments, but “Mint”…on clearance! Like I said maybe it’s no big deal at all. Maybe she just couldn’t pass up a really good deal. Yeah…that’s it…maybe.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Many...The Few

Why is it that so many will look, but only a few will really see? Why is it that so many will listen, but only a few will really hear? Many will touch, but only a few will truly feel. Many will cry, but only a few will ever weep. Many will laugh, but only a few until tears. Many hearts will think they have been broken, but only a few will have had the courage and confidence to have opened their hearts up enough to let love sweetly, deeply wound them. Many are taken with feelings of self importance, but only a few have any conception of worth. Many feel it’s their right to go straight to the front of the line, but only a few will realize that it’s only the kindness and courtesy of others that allow them to do that. So, why is that? Is it that many just don’t care or are they afraid or maybe they were never taught? Or maybe, as Winnie the Pooh might say…maybe they just have a bit of fluff in their eyes…or in their ears….or in their hearts…and we just need to have a little more patience. Hopefully soon a breeze will come along…and blow the fluff away.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Hassa Go

OK…so here’s how it went down. My wife and I were watching our daughter’s two little boys. The oldest is two and a half and the young one is nine months. Now, the two and half year old is currently an amateur potty trainee. He hasn’t gone pro yet, but he’s close. This however, was a moment of…not that close. He was in the living room coloring when I heard, “Gwampa, I hassa go poop!” I’m quoting verbatim here. So, I hustled him into the small half bath next to the kitchen. Having some experience at this I deftly got his pants and big boy undies down about half way. That’s the point when I realized the “Hassa go” was actually “Hassa went”. So, I held him up and out at arm’s length so as not to spread the joy around. The “Hassa went” immediately deposited itself on the bathroom floor. So, here I am holding this little boy out at arm’s length, poopy pants half way down and no where to put him that won’t complicate the matter. I looked to my wife for a little help here. She’s holding the nine month old …and convulsing in laughter. The two and a half year old decides he’d really like to see what’s so funny and starts twisting around to get a look at what’s going on down below. This is where you have to remember the half way down poopy pants part and the fact that this is a very small half bath. Now, while I did manage to keep any further deposits from a twisty two and a half year old off the wallpaper, towel rack and light switch…in my maneuvers I did manage to step in the “Hassa went” already on the floor. My wife thought this too was quite funny. She finally did stop laughing long enough to put the nine month old down on the kitchen floor and take the two and a half year old off for a thorough sanitization. And there I stood…poopy pants and undies in hand…standing in some ”Hassa went”…sharing a moment with the nine month old. Who I must say seemed totally unfazed by the whole chain of events as he sat there calmly on the kitchen floor…eating the dog’s food. True story.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jack

Jack has two speeds…full and off. He’s a small, whirling, white tornado with one black ear or he’s asleep on the couch. Jack is part Jack Russell and part who knows. He’s cute as hell, smart as a whip and he bounces. We rescued Jack about five years ago and he’s owned us ever since. He also owns our backyard, the neighbor’s backyard, the street we live on and the air space above it all. And he announces that fact every time we let him out. Every time! Let some unsuspecting person, squirrel, bunny, chipmunk, bird or windblown piece of anything enter Jack’s domain and he’ll let those encroachers know, in no uncertain terms, that he is king of this world. Now, Jack wouldn’t hurt a soul although my two and a half year old grandson has told him to stop pushing. He does love the kids. He does have a defining weakness though. He loves a good lap. Offer him one and can actually be quiet…for a while. A nice while. So, that’s our Jack. Our full speed, little bundle of life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Aunt Bernice

I had Aunts named Bernice, Dorothy and Marjorie. They…won’t. I remember davenports, ice boxes and cellars. They…won’t. I can recall going places like the five and dime and the soda shoppe. They…won’t. And that’s just fine. In fact, that’s how it should be. I’m old…they’re young. I have my memories and they’ll have theirs. Time does march on. And it only takes our good old days along with it for a while. Today becomes yesterday…yesterday becomes a memory…and memories eventually fade away when there is no one left to remember. And like I said, that’s just fine. That’s the way it should be. It does make me smile though to think about Grandmas with names like Jordan and Whitney. And those future after Thanksgiving dinner conversations about Grandpa’s Xbox, antique laptop and that thing they used to call a smartphone. Nope, they’ll never have an Aunt Bernice or sit on a davenport or spend a quarter at the five and dime. They will recall different things…just as warmly…just as fondly. And that’s the way it should be.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What is time?

There was a discussion on the radio this morning about just what this phenomenon we call “Time” really is. Two obviously very intelligent fellows were taking that discourse to places that left my brain in a very boggled state. It reached the point where all I could make out was the occasional reference to Einstein…relativity…space… speed…and the 60 seconds devoted to successful dating on Match.com. The fear of a head explosion began to ease though, when I thought to myself…Hey…I know what time is. And so do you. It’s what there never is enough of in a day. That’s what it is. It’s what flies when you’re having fun. Some of us take it…some of us give it. It’s what heals all. It’s what a lot of us waste too much of…though it can be well spent. It’s what Jim Croce tried to save in a bottle and had too little of here on this planet. It’s what the young ones wish would go faster and us older ones wish would slow down a little. All I know is that whatever this thing called time is…we’ve all been given some of it. And I think the important thing is…what we do with the time we’ve been given.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Words and Music

When I was a younger man, I spent about ten years touring the country as a folk singer. I played a lot east coast colleges, Rocky Mountain ski resorts, fine dining and drinking establishments and more than my share of local pubs with…well…questionable clientele and reputations. In my life, music has always owned my heart. I’ve had the privilege of singing lyrics that can stun the soul. And it has never failed to amaze me how, when in the right hands, words can capture moments in time and save them forever. There are songwriters that can paint scenes and share thoughts and emotions that can take us places we never knew we could go. Words in the right hands. Like Michael Murphy’s…”In the mist and smoke by the twisted oak, we’ll listen to the branches whisper “ from Dancing in the Meadow. You can feel the damp, cool October night air surround you. Or Joni Mitchell’s…”When the wind turns traitor cold and shivering trees are standing in a naked row” from Urge for Goin’. Can you see the frozen, silver moon? Words in the right hands can help us name our own joys and sorrows. Gorden Lightfoot’s…”She walked away into the night, I lost her in the misty streets, a thousand months a thousand years, when other lips will kiss her eyes, a million miles beyond the moon…that’s where she is” from The Last Time I Saw Her Face. A heart…breaking. Or John Sebastian’s…”Floating along with a whimsical twinkling in her strange green eyes” from She’s a Lady. I knew you. Words in the right hands can give us amazing gifts.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Snowfall

So, this morning I was looking out the kitchen window watching the snow gently fall. It was a beautiful snowfall really. A Christmas card snowfall. I swear I could almost see the little red cardinals perched in the holly bushes complete with glittering snow on dark green holly leaves. And I know if I would have stood there for just a bit more, shining stars would have started settling on snow covered pines. It was that perfect. Yeah…beautiful. We get about one of those every five years around here. Most of the time though, our snow comes in sideways on wicked winds that bend those holly bushes in half and have those cardinals clutching branches for dear life. Or it comes in heavy wet glops that jam up snowblowers and give middle aged hearts reason to pause. Our snowfalls mean our sleigh rides have to deal with frozen morning icy streets and dead sleigh batteries. And our winter wonderlands are all too often blanketed with snow that’s rather brown and crusty. Every once in awhile though, we’ll get a perfect snowfall morning like this. And it never fails to remind me that…it’s only every once in awhile. Let’s go see if the sleigh will start.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Old Friends

Tonight I think I’ll build a fire and spend a little time with a few of my memories…a few of my old friends. Oh, I won’t linger long. There’s too much future to get to…too many new memories to make. The old ones though are so very special. And every once in awhile they need a little tending to. They need to be taken from the shelf, dusted off and shined up a little. Memories are the landmarks of our lives. They tell us where we’ve been, who we’ve touched, who touched us and how we became what we are. The good ones are treasures...the not so good ones…hopefully teachers. They are images, places, people, smells, sights, sounds, smiles and tears that take us back to special moments in time past. Moments that our hearts have captured and our souls hang on to for us. They are precious indeed. Some short as a wink...some long as a loved one’s lifetime. But they all need to be tightly held and tended to with great care. Because you just never know when life might really need to take a moment…and remember. So, tonight I think I’ll build a fire and spend a little time with a few old friends. Don’t worry…I won’t linger long.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hair...Not the Musical

I have this theory about us older guys…and hair. Is this theory based on anything scientific? Absolutely not, but it makes sense to me. See, I think for a lot of us guys our hair ages much quicker than the rest of our stuff. This, as you can imagine, can cause some problems. As us guys age we tend to get more forgetful. It happens. That’s life. I truly believe though, that same phenomenon happens to our hair…and much more quickly. And when our follicles get forgetful…chaos reigns. As these premature geezer hairs make their way up through our bodies…they forget where to go. They lose their way. And instead of making it all the way up to our heads, confused geezer hairs start appearing on our backs…in our ears…and other strange and not so wonderful places. We have to remember though, it’s not their fault. They don’t like it any more than we do. Can you imagine the little guy’s frustration? Sometimes, late at night, I’ll be lying in bed and I swear I’ll hear a wee hairy voice in the dark excitedly proclaim “Made it!” Then comes a soft, painfully sigh…”Crap…it’s his ear!”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Face of God

There is an exhibit going on at the art institute right now called “The Face of Jesus”. It’s a collection of Rembrandt masterpieces portraying one master’s interpretation of another. The radio spots for the exhibit have different people describing what they think He might have looked like. And the announcer, with the help of some pretty cool music, announces that no one really knows what the face of God looks like. All pretty heady stuff. The face of God. It’s the kind of stuff that has had scholars pondering for centuries. I got to thinking though, all they really had to do… was ask me. I know what God looks like. I see Him and Her almost every day. She looks like the most beautiful 5 year old little girl with no front teeth you’ve ever seen. Even if I do say so myself…and I do. She told Her Grandma once that if kindergarten wasn’t challenging enough, maybe She should just go on to oneth grade. She is very wise indeed. He looks exactly like the 2 ½ year old little boy who runs full speed down the aisles of Home Depot shouting “I running Gwampa…I running”. He’s very fast on His little feet you know. She has the incredibly, soft brown eyes of a 2 year old sweetheart who gives her Grandpa the best hugs ever. Nobody hugs like She hugs. And His face lights up a room with the dancing blue eyes and laugh of a 9 month old who’s always happy to see me. And with no disrespect intended, I must say He’s a chubby little Guy. So yeah…I know what the face of God looks like. He and She…look like love…pure and simple. I have seen the face of God…I’ve even changed His diapers.