Monday, May 28, 2007


I returned yesterday from a week long road trip to Nashville, Tennessee with friend Karl. We arrived in the city on Monday afternoon and immediately hit South Broadway where the Honky Tonks host live music all day and night and all the musicians work for tips. Had a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer at Robert's Western World where they sell beer and boots and are known as the "home of traditional country music". Dave Cox played "only songs that were written before I was born" or original material. Notice the "tip jar" to the left of the stage. All of the musicians who entertain on South Broadway work for "tips" only. This is called "starting on the ground floor" of the country music business.During the week we also stopped in at Tootsie's World Famous Orchid Lounge, The Stage, and The Wildhorse Saloon but kept coming back to Robert's for the best time. Best original song I heard was a song about an ex girl friend titled "I Thought You Were My Girl But It Was Just My Turn". On Thursday afternoon we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and on Friday attended The Grand Old Opry.
We were in Nashville to attend a "Transformational Preaching" conference that presented 17 powerful speakers including Barbara Brown Taylor, Fred Craddock, Thomas Long, James Forbes, and Will Campbell. We were also entertained and inspired by Sweet Honey in the Rock. It was a great week of learning, fun, and seeing old friends.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Road Trip

Yesterday afternoon I departed from home to drive to Quakertown, Pa. to begin a road trip with friend and colleague, Karl. This first leg of the trip was 4 1/2 hours of gray skies, intermittent rain, listening to a cd of Greg Brown singing about love, slow food, and "I want my country back".
After church this morning, Karl and I climbed into my little red Nissan Versa to drive to Nashville where we will participate in a week long conference (more about that later). This afternoons' trip covered 442 miles through the green hills of Pennsylvania, Maryland,West Virginia, and Virginia. Karl and I talked about family, work, retirement, politics, music, and life as we moved along in our conversational nook at 70 mph. My experience is that road trips create the right conditions for honest and lively dialogue. There is something about the hum of the tires, the passing landscape, and a minimum of distractions (this depends on the other drivers) that enhances conversation. We arrived in Wytheville, VA. at 8pm and shared a fine dinner at the local Ruby Tuesday. A good beginning to a new adventure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Smothers Brothers

Last Saturday evening, Mary and I, had the pleasure of spending the evening at the beautiful Proctors Theatre in Schenectady with the Smothers Brothers. It felt like we were with old friends who had invited us into their home. Tommy and Dickie demonstrated the same quick wit, humor, and musical ability that made their 70's television program such a hit. This clip from a concert with the Boston Pops will give you a taste of what we experienced. Click here.
They also demonstrated some of the satire and political commentary that got them kicked off television three decades ago. In a long "bit" about lying, Tommy finally admitted that he lied because it is "national policy". It was a fun and entertaining evening.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

90% of Greensburg, Kansas was destroyed in just a few moments last week by a tornado. Like most small cities in the Mid-West, Greensburg was a carefully planned town. As you can see in the above photo, the streets were laid out in a careful grid. The planning was deliberate, organized, structured, and well thought out. The purpose was to help the residents feel comfortable and safe as they traveled to and fro throughout their town. It is these streets alone that are familiar now. Most residents would find it very difficult if not impossible to identify their property now if this grid work hadn't survived.
Chaos breaks into our lives unexpected and unwelcome. the familiar landmarks of our carefully constructed lives are destroyed and we feel adrift, without moorings. Then we become aware that something, something familiar, something trustworthy remains and we begin to find our way once again. That something has many names; hope, love, courage, community, faith. The residents of Greensburg speak of those things now. They talk of gratitude that their lives were spared, they speak of hope as they plan to rebuild.
Click here for some more incredible aerial photos of the devastation. As you look at these photos, think of all the lives that have been affected. Pray that they would have courage and hope and faith and know that those prayers have already been answered. The rebuilding, the planning, and the dreaming has already begun.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It is truly spring!

It has been thirty days since my last post. I have been missing, absent, truant, gone, from the blogosphere. Thank you to those who have noticed and have urged me to get back on the keyboard. It has been a month of adapting to an exciting and flexible retirement schedule filled with activities and challenges. Someone wrote that retirement was the appetizer part of life because you get to pick and choose what you like. My experience so far is that it is more like an all you can eat buffet with a vast variety of dishes. Each dish is filling and nutritious. In these past four weeks I have spent quality time with each grandchild visiting museums and libraries, playing in the park, and listening to their laughter. I am taking three classes through the Academy for Learning in Retirement and have traveled by train to Niagara Falls, Canada with John, my son's adult transition group. We have also attended a Billy Joel Concert and a Wierd Al Yankovich performance and the musical, The Putnam County Spelling Bee. There has also been the smaller but no less sweeter joys of cleaning house, cooking dinner, paying bills, having dinner with friends and planting the garden. All new activities to me in this post-work world I am experiencing. Similar to the all you can eat buffet, I am tempted to over indulge and consume more then is healthy. I am learning to pick and choose activities and opportunities with more care.

The icing on the cake has been the arrival of Spring. The sign we look for in our household is the blooming of our flowering crab apple tree. This morning it greeted us with a magnificent display of pink flowers. My thoughts turned to this prayer by Ted Loder titled; Be With Me in My Unfolding.

It is spring, Lord, and the land is coming up green again,

unfolding outside my well-drawn boundaries and urgent schedules.

And there is the mystery and the smile of it.

The willows are dripping honey color into the rivers,

and the mother birds are busy in manger nests,

and I am learning again that

"for everything there is a season

and a time for every matter under heaven."

O Lord, you have sketched the lines of spring.

Be with me in my unfolding.