Sunday, December 12, 2010


Many Sundays I still find myself leading worship and preaching at various churches but I also have frequent days like today. Days filled with enjoyable activities, family, and relaxation. It is still a bit of a "culture shock" from when I served as a parish pastor with all the responsibilities and busyness of each Sunday.
Today I attended worship at St. Peter Lutheran Church which is just a couple of miles up the road. After church I walked three miles in the dry and warm Mall in Wilton. On the way home I purchased a few "goodies" at the Dunk'n for Mary and John. Arriving home, I cooked omelets for our brunch and we sat at the table lingering over coffee and the newspaper. I then prepared a pot of chili which simmered on the stove throughout the afternoon as I watched football and dozed on the couch. These activities might sound mundane and boring to many but for me they are what makes this chapter of my life so rich. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy a "Sabbath Day" in this simple way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

According to Plan

Overheard at Panera's today; "If everything goes according to plan...". It has to be one of the silliest things we say. When was the last time that anything went "according to plan" in your life? I, like everyone else, make plans and imagine a general outline of how I want to proceed. In reality, the plan never goes as planned and I think that is a good thing. In my experience, it is the detours, challenges, and surprises that enrich my life. The lessons learned are not in the plan but in facing the unexpected.

In this season of my life, I try to practice surrendering more then planning. I'm attempting to be more open to intuition,opportunity, and God's will. For me, that begins with prayer each day. A recognition that "being in charge" is simply an illusion. That much of my life has been shaped by chance or luck or destiny. The real challenge is discerning what to do when the plan goes off the rails. So, after surrendering my will, I pray for discernment. For the wisdom to know what to do. Well, anyway, that's my plan.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Election Day Eve

This election season has left me feeling discouraged, depressed, and cynical. I am a bit of a political junkie and usually approach an election with both fascination and anticipation. This year, however, the angry words and accusations and attacks have sucked the usual excitement and hope right out of me. Despite all of this, I still believe in our system. Alan Forray writing in the Saturday, October 30, edition of the Times Union articuled how I am approaching this Tuesday.
"Maybe it is altogether futile, but I intend to vote on Tuesday. I will do so because in a democracy, it is my right, my obligation, and my job. Instead of just shouting that it's time to "Vote them all out," I'm voting for the candidates who, at the very least, have indicated that they'd like to try and do something."

Monday, October 25, 2010


"A man's never out of work. If he's worth a damn. It's just sometimes he doesn't get paid. I've gone unpaid my share and I've pulled my share of pay. But that's got nothing to do with working. A man's work is doing what he's supposed to do, and that's why he needs a catastrophe now and again to show him a bad turn isn't the end, because a bad stroke never stops a good man's work." William Least Heat-Moon in "blue highways".
It occurred to me that the above is a pretty good description of retirement as I have experienced it. A person's "work" during this chapter of life is to truly do "what he's supposed to do." Retirement gives one the freedom to make choices based on one's character, principles, and values without the constraint of placating an employer or customer.
The fellow traveler sharing his philosophy with the author concludes his musing with, "Any man's true work is to get his boots on each morning. Curiosity gets it done about as well as anything else."
I love being able to respond to curiosity during this season of life. If I read about a class, a lecture, an exhibit, a performance, etc. that interests me I now have the time to check it out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Water for Elephants

"When you're five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three, you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties something strange starts to happen. It's a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm-you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you're not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end, It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it."
So begins chapter one of "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. I enjoyed reading this fascinating novel about a depression era traveling circus and the wonderful characters and animals that populate it. I greatly appreciated the author's attention to detail and the wonderful descriptions of setting up and tearing down the big top and train travel in that time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Photos

John preparing to wave the green flag at Lee Speedway in New hampshire

Mary and I in Maine

Fishing on Burden Lake with Dewey

Kaylyn's Graduation

At Indianapolis Speedway Museum

Here I am kayaking on the Yellow River in Iowa

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Anxious, excited, tired, energized, filled with anticipation and hope. This is how I signed some correspondence today. This valediction reflects a life that is filled with activities, responsibilities, relationships, and challenges. In the midst of whining about how crazy things are right now I pause to give thanks for a busy life filled with significant work.
When I retired three years ago I would jokingly refer to this chapter of my life as "refirement". A refiring of purpose, direction, and energies. I realize now how fortunate I am to have significant and meaningful work to do in my 65th year of life.
The month of June will be be filled with opportunities to celebrate and succeed at the work I have been called. I begin the month in Rochester, NY at the Annual Upstate New York Synod Assembly. We have been planning six months for this event and I have been working closely with musician friend, Jim, to design the worship experiences at the assembly. Today the final draft of the worship booklet is finished and will be going to the printers soon. I have been supported by the other members of the planning team and others in this work. I am also preparing to present the keynote Bible Study at the opening of the assembly. This is a wonderful opportunity to share my passion for scripture in a creative and challenging manner. The added bonus is that not only is John attending with me but he will also be sharing his musical gifts in both worship and the Bible Study.
On the 12th of June; Mary, John, and I will fly to Cincinatti where I will rent a car and drive us to Eastern Iowa to visit her family. We will return to Cincinatti on the 17th where I will officiate at Keith and Jessica's wedding that weekend. We will return home on the 20th for one day before departing for Atlanta on the 22nd. John is a winner of Moe's Southwest Grill "Be A Dead Ringer" contest and we will fly down for his photo shoot and return the next day.
The day after that we will gather as a family to celebrate our granddaughter, Kaylyn's, graduation from high school. Another wedding on Saturday, the 26th, then off to Senior High Camp Week on Schroon Lake on Sunday. Whew!
We used to joke that I would still be serving on staff at Senior High Camp when I was 65 years old, well, it is not a joke. So now you can see why I sign my correspondence; anxious, excited, tired, energized, filled with anticipation and hope.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


I had a nice celebration of my 65 th birthday when I was in Florida. We drove to Gainesville, toured the museums, and had a great dinner at Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille. Harry's is a "New Orleans Style Restaurant" and I had a plate of the best Jambalaya that I have ever tasted. After dinner we attended a concert on campus of the college accappela group; "No Southern Accent". They put on a terrific show.
The truth is, I don't feel very old. Most of the time. But every once in awhile something comes up and I realize how much older I am then some others. For instance, the boys and girls on "American Idol' were assigned the task this week of singing from the John Lennon and Paul McCartney songbooks. Many of the contestants talked about their unfamiliarity with the Beatle's and their music. What? I forget how much tiome has passed. In my mind the Beatle's are still contemporary. I guess I am getting old.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Florida Trip: Week Three

We are preparing most of our meals here at the rental but have also had a number of unique dining experiences in the area. This Friday we drove the 24 miles to Nell's Country Buffet. It is in a very modest building in the town of Brandford. Nell serves up a buffet each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We were there in time for dinner and the all-you-can-eat buffet included fried chicken, fried fish, chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatos, green beans, corn, mustard greens. A salad bar that offered all the fix'ns for a tossed salad plus potato salad, macaroni salad, carrot salad, pasta salad, and fruit salad. Plus a dessert selection of two kinds of cake, peach cobbler, bananna pudding, and icecream. All of the above for the price of $6.95. I think we will make the drive again soon.The first day of spring was warm and sunny as we visited Dudley Farm Historic State Park in Newberry, FL. This is not a re-creation but an authentic 1880's era farm complex. It is a living history farm with animals and crops being raised on the property.

In the afternoon we drove into Gainesville and attended the Spring Garden Festival at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. There were over 200 vendors of plants, crafts, and food in a beautiful setting with live music on two stages. On the drive home we stumbled upon an outdoor concert with a terrific band.

Sunday evening we drove to Ocoee and stayed at a motel so as to get an early start the next day at Disney's Wild Kingdom Park. We enjoyed the park very much. It was a cool day in the 60's, just right for all the walking one must do at these parks. The rides and attractions were fun but we especially enjoyed the two live muxical shows; Nemo's Adventure, and The Lion King celebration. I am always amazed by the broadway caliber type talent that perform in these show. We completed the day with dinner at The Rainforest Cafe.

On Tuesday we came home via Ocala so we could visit with friends, see some of our old haunts, and dance at Spanish Square in The Villages in the evening. We enjoyed a great dinner and conversation with the two Richard's and their wives at a Sam St. John's Seafood Restaurant before going dancing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Florida Trip: Week Two

It has been a quiet week here in North Central Florida. Wednesday was our warmest day and we drove into Gainesville to take in a Florida Gator baseball game. It was a beautiful evening for baseball and the Gators beat the University of Illinois, 8-1.
Before the game we visited the Baughman Meditation Center on the campus of the University of Florida. It is a beautiful building open to students, faculty, and the public for personal contemplation. Here are a couple of pics of this peaceful place.

Richard and Louise and Rich and Zoe all drove up from Ocala for a visit on Thursday. We ate lunch at
Huckleberry's BBQ in Fanning Springs with real southern BBq that is smoked on the premises along with sides of fried okra, fried corn, and mustard greens. Everyone enjoyed the feast. After lunch we took the short drive to the Dakotah Winery for a wine tasting. Everyone left with bottles of wine. This was our second visit and it won't be our last.

Saturday found us driving to Silver Springs Park for a Randy Travis Concert. We sat on the lawn with the two Richard's and Louise and Zoe. The country artist was in fine voice and backed by a terrific band. Temperatures were in the high 60's with a strong breeze. During the concert, John had the opportunity to meet a baby 'gator up close and personal.
Here at the rental, John and I have played a few games of horseshoes, Mary has quilted, I've gone for my daily walks down to the river, Mary and I have played cards, and we've all watched a couple of movies on the tv. It is hard to believe that our time here is half over already.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Florida Trip: Week One

We began our trip south a day later then planned due to a winter storm in the northeast. The delay did not prevent us from driving through rapidly falling snow south of Poughkeepsie and into New Jersey on Friday the 25th. We arrived safely at the home of Karl and Leslie in the early evening. After a tour of the church that Karl serves as Senior Pastor, we had a fantastic dinner at Famous Dave's Barbeque. Our first but certainly not last bbq of the trip. We had a lively discussion and lots of laughs with Karl and Leslie and their daughters, Amanda and Abigail.

Saturday we had an uneventful trip to Florence, SC; then on to Florida and the town of Homossasa to spend the evening with Poker Blugill (Dewey) and his lovely wife, Elizabeth. Sunday morning dawned with bright sunshine and mild temps. Dewey cranked up the pontoon boat and we cruised down the river accompanied by dolphins and manatees. It was very exciting and Dewey and Elizabeth went swimming with the manatees as I spotted for them from the boat. In the afternoon we headed north to our rental here in Old Town, Florida. This house is about 90 miles northeast of where we have stayed the last three years so we have a lot of new territory to explore. Tuesday and Wednesday we began those explorations with trips to the Walmart (the social gathering place for many in this area), pizza at Hungry Howie's, and walks in the neighborhood as well as on the Suncoast Trail.

Dewey and Elizabeth arrived Thursday afternoon and I cooked apricots and chicken for dinner. On Friday we purchased fishing licenses with visions of catching some Suwanee bass but thanks to unusually high water we came up empty. The day was still very enjoyable as we visited two of the local state parks, Manatee and Fanning Springs. Hungry from being outdoors all day, we visited the Black Diamond Restaurant for a great meal. Returning to the house we ended the day with a lively game of Fact or Crap. Dewey won which I think is Crap but it sure was fun.

Saturday morning, Dewey and Elizabeth headed north after sharing a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, over easy eggs, and smoked bacon made by yours truly. An engaging conversation was the perfect accompaniment to the hearty breakfast. Mary, John, and I visited a few flea markets in the afternoon and listened to live bluegrass music in the evening at the Otter River Campground. Five different bands performed old timey gospel and bluegrass.

Today, Sunday, we made the hour drive to Gainesville to attend church. During a hymn I left the sanctuary to find a bathroom and seeing a sign that indicated the restrooms were in the next building, I walked across the court to the indicated building. Upon return I found myself locked out of the church. After about five minutes an usher came into the hallway and I attracted his attention by tapping on the window. I am not quite sure that I would rate this particular congregation as "visitor friendly" but I did enjoy the worship service. We had lunch at the Book Lovers Cafe and the visited the museum at the University of Florida. The highlight of the visit was the butterfly rainforest where we were surround by hundreds of beautiful specimens. I am having trouble downloading pics here but there is a slide show on my facebook page.

The nights have remained quite cool but each day has been warmer then the previous and today we reached 74 degrees.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Heading South

Well...yes...I am ready. Ready to leave the Northeastern United States for five weeks. Florida is on my mind and thankfully the sunshine state appears to be warming up after an unusually cold winter. On my sidebar I have the current temperature for Ballston Lake and for North Central Florida where we will be staying. Today our high was in the 30's and there it reached the 70's. Here we are about to enter our 5th month of winter but in Florida, spring is just around the corner.
Much to do before departing. You know the list. This and that. I have the route all mapped out. A stay with friends in the Philadelphia area, then on to Florence, SC, and then a couple days with Poker Bluegill and his lovely wife in Homossassa where we will say hello to the manatees and Lu the Hippo. Then, finally, to our rental in Old Town, FL. This will be a new rental and a new area for us after three wonderful winter trips to the Ocala area. We will be out in the country surrounded by many state and county parks. They call the area Old Florida to differentiate from the Disneyfied and Condoized parts of Florida.
High on the priority list of tasks to complete is getting the Nissan ready for the trip. All was well, then Friday I stopped to get gas. As I squeezed the pump handle, gas ran out of the tank and down the side of the car. Nursing the pump, squeezing tentatively, I managed to get 3 gallons into the tank. Saturday I had the same experience. Tommorrow morning when the service department opens at the dealer, I will be there waiting. Hopefully they will be able to fix it quickly so that we can leave on schedule.
Tonight I have begun packing. Folding the warm weather clothes and placing them in the suitcase creates one of the best feelings a resident of the Notheast can have in February. For my few faithful readers, I will be blogging along as we travel. 'till then.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Ahhhhh February

"Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?"
- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

As I turn my face to February and my back to January, I anticipate March in Florida.

"Late February, and the air's so balmy snowdrops and crocuses might be fooled into early blooming.
Then, the inevitable blizzard will come, blighting our harbingers of spring, and the numbed yards will
go back undercover. In Florida, it's strawberry season— shortcake, waffles, berries and cream will
be penciled on the coffee shop menus."
- Gail Mazur,
The Idea of Florida During a Winter Thaw

Only the shortest month stands between us and strawberries, grapefruit, and oranges. March in Florida is springtime with blossoming flowers and fresh garden vegetables. Often this month my mind will already be on the journey to the sunshine state. February comes with the promise to not be quite as busy and filled with activities as January was.

My last post, written on New Year's Day, described a lazy and relaxing day that would not be repeated. January was busy, challenging, and filled with activity. One such activity involved Potential Unlimited Productions, an organization which offers artistic and musical training for individuals with disabilities. John has been a "cast member" at "Potential" for many years and I serve on their board. In January they moved to a new facility near Woodstock, New York and I traveled there two days to help clean and paint the new space. I also made a trip to the Syracuse area to attend two meetings involving responsibilities I have with the Upper New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I continue to serve on the Mission in Transition Team and this year I am serving on the planning team for the Synod Assembly to be held in June. I am coordinating efforts to plan worship for that event. My main priority in January was to design workshops on "Preaching Hope to an Anxious People" which I presented at the First Call Pastors' Event, January 25-28, in Convent Station, New Jersey. This was my fifth year on staff at that important event which offers continuing education for pastors in their first 3 years in parish ministry.

In between the ministry responsibilities I continued weekly Tai Chi classes and added a two week Qi Gong class. Qi Gong (pronounced chee kung) sometimes spelled Chi Kung, is the ancient art of Chinese energy work. Qi (or chi) means energy or life force - Gong (kung) means work. The set I recently learned is called "The Swimming Dragon" and it involves stretching and twisting the whole body. Special Olympic bowling started up again on 1/14 and I am once again serving as a coach to John's team. Spending time with these courageous folks is the highlight of my week. We have a great time together. January ended with a "bang" as John and I attended the musical "Grease" on Saturday and John performed for the second year at the Center for Disability Telethon on Sunday.

Granddaughter, Kaylyn, and I began a four week Improv class this week. We enjoyed the first session very much and are looking forward to the upcoming sessions. John and I have tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters this Sunday, I am helping lead a council retreat later in the month, we have another meeting in Syracuse this Saturday, and it is time to start planning Senior High Camp. I am thankful for a full and rich life as March and my 65th birthday are on the horizon.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Day

Just the strangest day for me. I seem to have learned how to relax. Finally. At least for a day. So I began the new decade in my pajamas and stayed in them. Cannot remember ever doing that before as an adult. Ate cereal and blueberries, read the paper, posted photos on the blog, prepared pork and sauerkraut with apples, carrots, onions, and brown sugar and put it all in the crockpot. To my surprise it was 12:30 and I was still in my PJ' I took a nap. This afternoon I got dressed, we watched a little football, ate dinner, and watched "Taking Woodstock". A delightful and fun account of the events surrounding the 3 days of peace and music. Until the mouse....not in the movie but running across our living room floor. Where did he come from? Went behind the piano. So we gave chase, went behind the tv, then out a crack under the doorjam. Stuffed it full of steel wool. That'll fix him. Happy New Year!

2009 in Pictures

Clara Rose born 11/25
Sawyer Todd born 6/26

Mary, John, and I in Florida in March

Kaylyn and I at MassMoca

Christmas Eve

September in Diamond Point

Noah and Jake

Noah in his pool

Josh taking the plunge

My son...the guitar man

planting the garden with Jena and Jake

John and Noah with me on a hike

waterfall in Vermont

Morgan up a tree

spring at our house

John the rock star

You "nose" it is 2010!!
Happy New Year!!