Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year’s Eve/Day

New Year’s Eve/Day

The ball drops, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1;
2015 retreats into history, 2016 advances as mystery.

Another year gone, wasted, squandered, savored, perhaps even treasured;
            like Mary, pondering and wondering about all these things;

Books read and unread, movies seen and unseen, friends present and missing;
            family times shared, birthdays celebrated, anniversaries acknowledged.

Trips, adventures, hopes, and dreams postponed, put-off, delayed and
            probably canceled, deleted, in fact, never to be?

The noise makers trumpet, the confetti  poppers explode in bright colors,
            couples share a fairy tale kiss hoping that their lives will magically,
 wonderfully change in the New Year. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

On The Second Day of Christmas...........

On the second day of Christmas my mind is filled with memories and feelings of this season.
                  From Thanksgiving to today, from turkey to ham, from gratitude to gifts.
                                               Gratitude for all that’s been,
                                                                        Hope for what is yet to be.

Sadness and grief for those who died in the midst of these days intended for joy.
                                                Prayers and tears for the grieving, the surviving, the battling,
                                                                                    who humble me with their courage.

My heart is filled with gratitude for Christmas trees hung with memories,
            meals shared with family, carols sung with gusto, gifts chosen with care,
                                    holiday bread baking in the oven, and gifts given and received.

I will carry into the waning days of the year the memory of a Christmas Eve worship filled
                                    with joyful music, exuberant greetings, illuminating candlelight,
                                                            a birth proclaimed, hope announced, peace promised.

And a Christmas Day injected with laughter, conversation, gifts unwrapped,
                                                      games played, food eaten, naps taken, hugs given. 

On the second day of Christmas my mind is filled with memories and feelings of this season.
                        For my life changed by the story of one born in a manger,
                                for Jesus’ message of love, for faith to see the light in the darkness.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reading Across America

I read the following article in Entertainment Weekly and was inspired to begin a journey of reading. So far I've read three of the 50 books in the list. I put the date I finished reading each entry and a few remarks following the title. I will update as this reading adventure continues. Let me know if anyone else decides to take on this challenge.

The September 4, 2015 print version of Entertainment Weekly has an interesting feature by Keith Staskiewicz and Isabella Biedenharn on “The United States of Books.”
“Which novel captures the true spirit of Iowa? How about Texas? Or Rhode Island? Here, EW picks the one work of fiction that best defines each state in the union.”
Is it any surprise that John Updike was chosen as the author whose novel best represents the spirit and character of Pennsylvania?
In choosing Rabbit, Run as the book that captures the spirit of Pennsylvania, the authors write, “Updike’s most famous work, the first of his Rabbit Angstrom novels, follows a former high school basketball star after he abandons his pregnant wife and child, taking suburban Pennsylvania ennui to a terrifying precipice.”
Since there’s no online link yet, here are all the state selections:
Alabama—To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Alaska—Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George (9/15) This is a YA novel about a 13 year old Inuit girl alone on the tundra. She observes a pack of wolves in order to learn survival skills and eventually becomes part of the wolf pack. Well written with vivid descriptions of the beautiful and brutal Alaskan wilderness.
California—Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion
Colorado—Plainsong, Kent Haruf
Connecticut—The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
Delaware—The Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina Henriquez
Florida—The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Georgia—Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Hawaii—The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings
Idaho—Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
Illinois—Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks
Indiana—The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington
Iowa—Shoeless Joe, W.P. Kinsella
Kansas—Doc, Mary Doria Russell (10/18) A great historical novel that examines the life and times of Doc Holiday before the events at the OK Corral defined him in myth and legend. His life long battle with tuberculosis, his time in Dodge City, his career as a dentist, and his friendship with Wyatt Earp are all examined with care and attention to the way things were in the years following the Civil War. 
Kentucky—In Country, Bobbie Ann Mason
Louisiana—The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Maine—Empire Falls, Richard Russo
Maryland—The Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler
Massachusetts—The Wapshot Chronicle, John Cheever
Michigan—Once Upon a River, Bonnie Jo Campbell
Minnesota—The Betsy-Tacy Series, Maud Hart Lovelace
Mississippi—The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
Missouri—The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain (9/15) I, of course, had read Twain's masterpiece as a high school student. Reading it now, at age 70, was a totally different experience. While floating down the river, Huck and Jim grow to love each other despite the racism and cultural expectations of their time. 
Montana—A River Runs through It, Norman Maclean
Nebraska—My Antonia, Willa Cather
Nevada—Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
New Hampshire—A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
New Jersey—Independence Day, Richard Ford
New Mexico—House Made of Dawn, N. Scott Momaday
New York—Drown, Junot Diaz
North Carolina—Jim the Boy, Tony Earley
North Dakota—Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich
Ohio—Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
Oklahoma—The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Oregon—Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
Pennsylvania—Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Rhode Island—Spartina, John Casey
South Carolina—The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy
South Dakota—Black Hills, Dan Simmons
Tennessee—A Death in the Family, James Agee
Texas—Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
Utah—The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey
Vermont—Songs in Ordinary Time, Mary McGarry Morris
Virginia—The Known World, Edward P. Jones
Washington—The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
West Virginia—Lord of Misrule, Jaimy Gordon
Wisconsin—A Map of the World, Jane Hamilton
Wyoming—Close Range, Annie Proulx

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Good Old Summertime!

Summer means happy times and good sunshine. Brian Wilson

It has been a good summer with happy times spent with children and grandchildren. Here are some memories of Summer 2015. 
 A trip to Vermont in May to visit Josh and family.
 The swimming hole in Waitsfield.
 Noah and Clara.
 Fishing at Blueberry Lake.
Clara with Uncle John
 Todd and Sawyer accompanied me to the Eve of Destruction 
We watched a snowplow crash into a school bus
 Suzi, Jacob, Jena, Carla, Ted, and I attended dedication of flag mural 
in Warrensburg.
 This is the artist's car.
 In late July Mary and I did an overnight in Vermont.
I loved these flowers.
We had lunch next to the Odyssey Book Shop and
then spent a couple of hours browsing. 
 Attended a HUGE antique market where I 
spotted these ugly lamps. Brimfield, MA

Buttons and buttons
 wooden baskets
 On July 15th John sang the National Anthem at
a Valleycats baseball game. The theme
was Christmas in July.

 Players preparing for the game.
 Elizabeth and Grandson, Casey, with our family on the 
field before the game.
John singing the anthem.

 On Sunday, July 19th, we drove to Prospect Park in Brooklyn to attend John's biological family reunion.

 Aunt Yvette
 Uncle Tyrone
Aunt Rochelle 
 Uncle Dougie
 Aunt Elizabeth
The Chefs
John and his tiny cousin
 I purchased a new tent and on a rainy night; Jake, Jena, and
I camped on the porch.
 The next morning we went fishing at Round Lake
On the first weekend in August we came together for
our annual visit to Diamond Point. Below are the grandchildren who 
were there that day.
 And the children
The whole gang.
On August 6th we drove to Burlington, VT to attend
Garrison Keillor's Farewell Tour. (below)

 We then traveled to Waitsfield to help Noah sell his
Fizzy Maple Lemonade at the Vermont
Music Festival. Cousin jake also helped. (above)
In the evening they lit a huge bonfire. 
 Then we all participated as they released scores of lanterns.

Spotted this butterfly in our front yard!
 On the last day of August we were taking Jake and Jena out for
ice cream when we spotted this hot air balloon off in the distance.
 We followed it as it began to descend.

 Landing in these folks back yard.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Spring: Summarized

Well, I've weaned myself off of Face Book. Family and friends have asked why and I do not have a simple or easy answer but here are some of the reasons.

  • I found it to be very addicting. It almost became a "need" to check Face Book.
  • Going "on" Face Book became the easy thing to do. Easier then reading a book, going for a walk, working in the yard, planting something, riding the bike, talking to Mary, listening to music, etc. etc.
  • I was strangely and uncomfortably disappointed when I posted something and no one commented. Weird!
  • Face Book "friends" are not a suitable replacement for face to face or voice to voice friends but I almost fooled myself into thinking they were.
  • In some ways it becomes like television. I'm witnessing other people "living" while all I am doing is watching.
Anyway, I am not posting or checking Face Book on any regular basis and I find that I do not miss it. It has also made time for activities and projects and relationships that bring value to my life. That's the bottom line for me and it is probably not true for others but it is true for me. Face Book did not and does not add any value to my life.

I also thought that I would give up this blog also for some of the same reasons. On further reflection I realize that the simple process of writing and reflecting does add value to my daily life rather any one reads this or not. I am grateful for friend, Dewey, for helping me to realize this. Thanks, Dew!

May and June have been busy and exciting months for us. We have completed all the repairs and renovations on the house following our broken water pipes this winter. As a result we have a newly painted bathroom. new floor covering in Kitchen and Hall, and my old office is now my personal space. In modern jargon it is a "man cave" but I like the old fashioned term "Den". I have two bookshelves filled with my favorite books, a comfortable chair, a large screen tv on which to watch the Mets and the football Giants, and table space for the computer. I am also moving our turntable and records into the space. My plan is to cover the walls with photos of family and friends and pictures of the good times we've enjoyed in the past.

Two other projects were also completed. The first is a backyard fire pit inspired by the one at our winter rental in Florida. I made it fairly large using one level of large fire pit blocks from Lowes, topped off with some fancy brick from Dewey's backyard. The inside and out is lined with river stone. 

We had our first fire Memorial Day Weekend.

The second project, both projects possible because of a generous monetary gift from the children for Father's Day, is a raised garden bed. As I age I find it increasingly difficult to get down on my knees to work in the garden. We also have a wood chuck and a couple of rabbits who gnaw on everything I attempt to grow. The solution? A waist high garden bed. I haven't built many things in my life and this turned out to be a fun project. 

The yard looks the best it has in years and I also cleaned up the old canoe, the folding boat, and the pop up camper. As a result, we were able to sell both the canoe and the camper. I purchase the canoe 30 years ago for 200 dollars and sold it for 225! 

That's the folding boat to the left of the canoe with the pail on top of it. I am hoping to try the folding boat in the water soon. It has been many years sitting in back yard.

We've also made two trips to Vermont to see Josh and family this spring and Josh and the children will be here this weekend. Family celebrations of Mother's and Father's day, Memorial Weekend, and grandkids sports activities have all made this a busy and joy filled spring. And I even had the opportunity to go fishing a few times. I can't wait to see what adventures summer has in store for us.