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


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


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.