Category Archives: Life

Signs Of The Times

We were walking in a park the other day and came across this sign. Normally I wouldn’t be surprised except this particular park was wide open. It has a long walking track, playground, lots of athletic fields,  a dog park, even a water park for kids in the summer. What it doesn’t have is trees. Or wooded areas. Or anywhere to do what the sign prohibits except in the open. So as I looked around I wondered where this lawbreaking activity actually took place. Could it be that men made believe they were checking the tires on a car and women spent more than the usual amount of time squatting down to get  something from under the baby stroller, out in the open? Really? I’ll have to visit more often to check out this situation. Oh yeah, those facilities near the concession stand? They’re closed until April 1st. So is it still against the law if the facilities you advertise for use are closed? Just asking.

So this is another park I was walking in last week on a trail that’s not paved. Still, I’ve never seen a sign that prohibits texting while walking. There were other signs that prohibited cell phone use, horseplay and running. I’m sure the exposed tree roots had something to do with this and I’m sure safety was a concern. Probably not as much of a concern as potential liability on the part of the township but tha’s just me being cynical. So, rule breaker that I am, I decided to jog a bit while texting and making a phone call. I tried to horseplay but I was alone and my other personalities didn’t want to play with me. Go figure.

I thought this one was interesting. The free trip portion was an attention grabber, though anyone familiar with the Catholic Church, as I am, understands that free usually comes with a price tag. Still, I thought it was clever. It reminded me of a line I heard many years ago, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Such a conundrum.

Who would have thought one would find such a profound/meaningful statement in a mall pizza joint. But here it is. Think about it. Then go hug the people you love.

Till next time….

Empty Mansions

A couple of years ago, while visiting a small book store in Newport Rhode Island, I came across an interesting book titled, Empty Mansions. I didn’t buy it then but strangely enough, my brother gave it to me as a gift several months later. I always meant to read it but for some reason it sat on my reading shelf for over a year.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago and one of the blogs I really enjoy following is Book Club Mom. If you’ve never visited, I highly recommend giving her a look. Barbara does a terrific job reviewing all kinds of books and opening up interest where none existed before.
Coincidently, she reviewed Empty Mansions just as I was beginning to think it might be a good time to read it.

I have included the link to Barbara’s review of the book below since I could never do it as well as she did. In short, it is a story of Huguette Clark, an incredibly wealthy woman, who owned and maintained palatial homes in California, New York and Connecticut, though some remained empty and not visited for over fifty years. It’s the story of a woman who, in spite of her wealth, lived the last twenty years of her life in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health. She was 104 when she died, choosing to live in the strangest form of seclusion.

But there is much more which you will find here….

One of the things which touched me the most and, in some ways, helped me to understand Huguette, was an old French fable titled, The Cricket.  Sometimes it is called, True Happiness and is included at the end of the book. It was written in the late 1700’s by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian.

The Cricket

A poor little cricket
Hidden in the flowery grass,
Observes a butterfly
Fluttering in the meadow.
The winged insect shines with the liveliest colors;
Azure, purple and gold glitter on his wings;
Young , handsome, foppish, he hastens from flower to flower,
Taking from the best ones.
Ah! says the cricket, how his lot and mine
Are dissimilar! Lady Nature
For him did everything, and for me nothing.
I have no talent, even less beauty;
No one takes notice of me, they know me not here below;
Might as well not exist.
As he was speaking, in the meadow
arrives a troop of children,
Immediately they are running
after this butterfly, for which they all have a longing.
Hats, handkerchiefs, caps serve to catch him.
The insect in vain tries to escape.
He becomes soon their conquest.
One seizes him by the wing, another by the body;
A third arrives and takes him by the head.
It should not be so much effort
To tear to pieces the poor creature.
Oh! Oh! says he cricket, I am no more sorry;
It costs too dear to shine in this world.
How much I am going to love my deep retreat!
To live happily, live hidden.

The fable, which was a favorite of Huguette, has a powerful lesson.

The book is both fascinating, and sad.


I’ve been away for a bit but my mind hasn’t completely shut down. There are all these little thoughts that my brain manufactures, or things I’ve seen, and I’ve missed getting over here to write them and interact with you. So I’m going to make an effort, starting with this post, to write when I can and hope some of it makes sense. So here it goes….

I read several days ago that a private practice nutritionist suggested that having pizza for breakfast was a better option than cereal. Where, in God’s name, has she been all my life? I have to believe her private practice is going to blow up in her favor. Anyone who favors pizza over cereal for breakfast must have some other unique nutritional value suggestions we’ve been waiting for all these years. Finally, someone who speaks our language.

On the flip side of the pizza hunt for red October, I watched a documentary on Netflix recently, called Forks Over Knives. It’s essentially a suggestion that a plant-based food diet can help to eliminate any number of health related issues we may be having, including but not limited to heart, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. The studies they conducted and the results that were shown by individuals were pretty interesting. I’m not sure I can give up bread and chocolate but a halfway point might be considered. Anyway, if you have 90 minutes to spare one day, its worth exploring.

Finally, one last food topic. Some weeks ago riots spread out across France when supermarkets offered steep discounts on Nutella. France is one of the best trips we’ve ever taken and even though it’s been quite a few years since we’ve been there, I’d book a flight tomorrow if they ever pulled that Nutella trick again. Nutella is crazy good and my impression of the French people, while already high, moved up several more meters on the good crazy scale.

Our Ninety year old Aunt, who still drives, doesn’t take a single medication, has never been to a doctor and has all her facilities, received a one thousand piece puzzle as a gift recently. Of course she has no use for a puzzle that size so she decided to give it to us. Except she placed the pieces in a plastic bag and threw out the box it came in. She didn’t think anyone needed the box, or the picture on the front cover. I’m not a fan of puzzles anyway so it worked out in my favor.

We saw the movie  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, last month. One of the better acted movies I’ve seen in some time. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it.

On the television front, binge watched Stranger Things, on Netflix. I’m not a big sci-fi fan but I really enjoyed this show. We also watch The Amazing Mrs Maizel on Amazon. Very funny and well acted. Set in the late 1950/ early 60’s. Recommend both if you have the services.

We went out for a late lunch the other day and were seated near a table of nine older women who were just finishing up. I heard the waiter apologize as he was giving them their individual bills because he only had seven pens. When they left and he came over to us I was teasing him about having to write-up nine bills but he just laughed it off. I asked him if that was normal for both men and women and if it varied by age. His answer surprised me. He said the two categories for separate bills, in his experience, are older women and younger men. The older women didn’t surprise me but the younger men did. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to lunch or dinner with anyone where we just didn’t split the bill, even if I thought I ordered less. But everyone is different. I just didn’t think younger men would fall into that category.

Fact…..if you’re painting a room and cover everything completely, a drop of paint will find the tiny little crevice that became separated between drop cloths. It just will.

I enjoy going shopping with my wife and I consider myself to be a pretty patient person. However, I think I’m more patient when there are a couple of chairs strategically placed in clothing stores. It doesn’t have to be fancy or especially comfortable. It just has to have four legs and a seat. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s hard to believe  that retailers can’t figure out that when a women is shopping with their significant other, a place to sit goes a long way in the length of their visit, the mood they might be in, and more importantly, the direct correlation in how much they end up spending. I just don’t get it.

A few weeks ago I read that a woman from Concord, New Hampshire won 559 million dollars in the lottery but has yet to claim it because she doesn’t want anyone knowing who she is. Apparently, if she would have set up a trust before she signed the back of the ticket, the person in charge of the trust could have signed their name and she could have remained anonymous. Now I understand wanting to remain behind the curtain, but you just won life changing money and you knew the rules going into the game. She may yet win her case but at the end of the day that’s a whole lot of money. I’m not sure I’d want her problem, but I’m not sure I’d turn away from it either.

Sorry this is so long, but if you stayed till the end, ice cream is on me tonight. Whatever flavor you would like.



If You Make One Resolution This Year…..

Some of you may have noticed that I have been absent from our blogging world since the end of November. Then again, some may have not noticed at all…) I understand either way…) Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way and prevents us from following our normal routines or pleasures. In this case, the reason is breast cancer.

My wife was given the diagnosis in early December, had surgery a few days before Christmas and will begin treatment shortly. The good news is that the tumor was small and we caught it early. The not so good news is that chemo and radiation is ahead of us, but the outlook is very promising.

My purpose in writing this post is not so much for us, though prayers and good wishes are always welcome. My purpose is to let you know that this cancer was caught very early through a yearly mammogram. Because it was so small and deep, it could not be felt through self-examination or by a doctor, only through a  mammography.

Her decision to be tested yearly probably saved her life. My hope is that my words here may encourage someone out there to go for a test they may have put off for too long. Whether it’s a mammogram, colonoscopy, yearly physical, blood work, dermatologist visit or whatever else you should be checking, please take the time to take care of yourself.

I don’t know if anyone dislikes going to a doctor or for tests more than me. It’s unnerving, stressful and easy to convince yourself that you’re feeling fine and don’t need to rock the boat when the waters are calm. But we recognize, in time, that waters don’t always stay calm.
I also recognize that some people don’t believe in tests as a preventative tool and I’ll be the first to admit that not all tests are necessary. So let’s get that excuse out-of-the-way and focus instead on those tests that may save your life. You know what they are.

If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for those who care about you. Do it so you have no regrets. No what ifs. Do it so you have the joy of living life to its fullest, even if that means a test reveals a detour that takes time away from the things you planned. Do it so you have many more days to make plans. Do it because you understand that while time is a depreciating asset and we can’t control everything in life, there are things we can do that just might help us, help ourselves.

I recognize this is not an uplifting post and it’s a topic we sometimes shy away from. But I’m hoping these words encourage just one person to make a phone call and do what you’ve been putting off. Making the appointment is the hardest part. Don’t wait.

Do it for those you love.

Silent No More

“In practice, the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of a women’s experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.”
                                                                     Judith Lewis Herman

It seems I can’t listen to a news broadcast or read a newspaper the last couple of months with seeing another article or story relating to a powerful non-female harassing or abusing women. (Sorry, but I refuse to use the word man when referring to these individuals). Almost everyday there is another woman, or group of women, describing, in detail, the degradation they endured while working or attempting to find employment in the field where these sub humans wielded the power to destroy a career or make their lives so miserable they would suffer humiliation and fear rather than speak up. Children were also part of this disgusting behavior, as evidenced by the more than 100 children, (now women), who were abused during their gymnastics careers by a renowned team physician. Producers, actors, doctors, clergy, journalists, politicians, CEO’s, studio heads; the list of those individuals abusing power for their own satisfaction is endless.

In many cases years have gone by since these incidents took place and yet I don’t question a woman’s reasons for not coming forward sooner. Unless any one of us is in that position, how can we ever try to understand their thought process. Fear and intimidation are powerful weapons being used by powerful people. Circumstance is not ours to judge, especially in a society that continues to view women differently than non-females. A society that has failed to mature and grow up to the standards each of us deserves.

In these cases, the more powerful the abuser is, the greater his ability to define and arrange his arguments. Power is always wielded against the most vulnerable amongst us.

What angers me as much as the abusers are all those who knew about the actions of these individuals and did nothing about it. They share equal responsibility. They swept the complaints under the carpet, created non disclosure agreements, ignored the repeated problems that continued to be voiced and generally maintained the good old boys club be kept intact. They turned away. All these powerful and outwardly respectable sub humans didn’t think the voices that were raised were worth the words that were spoken.

How sad is that?

My guess is we’re in the infancy stage of this story, though I do question whether the press will ever reveal the true extent. Too many friends in high places, too much money to be lost by revealing the truth. But we’ll see,
Equally important is what happens now. How we move forward from this. There are more layers to this problem than what’s been revealed. While where we’ve been should never be forgotten, where were go from here is a question each of us must answer in his or her own way.

The responsibility is ours.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 
                                                                                              Abraham LIncoln


It was the end of the school day and the second grade class I was a substitute for that day was packed up and waiting to be called for their individual buses. Some were talking, some were playing games and some were showing off a bit, as second graders sometimes do.

When I looked over at Carter, he had a piece of construction paper out and was drawing what looked to be a card. Curious, I walked over and asked him what he was making. He told me it was a card for his mom. I asked him if it was for a special occasion, her birthday or something else but he just shook his head, smiled a little and said, “I just want to make her a card, but I don’t know what to write.”

I kneeled down next to him and asked him what he wanted to say. He looked at me and said, “I want to thank her for what she does for me.” I told him that was nice of him and maybe he can think of two or three things to write that stand out the most. He turned away from me, stared out the window and said, “She does everything for me. I don’t know how to write that.”

Before I could answer him or suggest some words, his bus was called and he had to leave. As I was driving home behind a school bus, I was wondering how his card would turn out and what he might write. Then the school bus stopped and I saw Carter step off, run over to a young woman, wrap his arms around her waist and press his head against her.

Maybe he finished the card that night, maybe the next day. Maybe he found the words he needed or maybe he’s still working on it. I’m not sure. But I smiled when I saw him hug his mom, not because he wanted to write that card or how his words made me feel. I smiled because…

Carter was home.


A Princess And Her Prince

A few weeks ago we were blessed to welcome our sixth grandchild, Taylor, into our family. She recently turned a month old and, like her sister at the same age, enjoyed a little photo shoot with her favorite pillow rest, Bailey.

Her birth reminded me of one of my favorite poems by the French poet, Yves Bonnefoy. I thought I’d share part of it with you…

The All, The Nothing

Its the last snow of the season,
The spring snow-the most skilled
At mending the rips in the dead wood
Before it’s brought inside and burnt.

It’s the first snow of your life,
Since yesterday there were only dots
Of color, brief pleasures, fears, chagrins-
Without substance for lack of words.

And I can see joy overtaking the fear
In your eyes which amazement opened
In one great, bright leap; this cry, this laughter
That I love, and that I ponder….

May the big snow be for you, the all, the nothing,
Child trying out your first uncertain steps in the grass,
Your eyes still full of the origin,
Hands grabbing at nothing but the light.

May the gleaming branches be the words
You’ll have to listen to, not understanding
The meaning of their silhouette against the sky-
Otherwise you’d only name them at the price of losing.

May these two values, one sparkling, be enough for you,
Of the hill glimpsed through the opening between the trees,
Bee of life, when in your dreams of the world,
The world itself grows quiet.

And may the water that wells up in the shadow
Show you that joy can survive in dream,
Even when a breeze from who knows where
Is already scattering almond blossoms-and yet the other snow.

Enjoy a blessed life, Taylor