Category Archives: Life

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

 

Random Thoughts

I know I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks, but summer is like that for me. My mind tends to go on vacation because it’s not being paid enough to stay and play. Still, I’ve been thinking and reading about things during those times where I force my brain to function and I thought I’d share them with you before I forget what I was planning on writing, which seems to happen with some frequency these days. I know most of you can relate.

So here it goes…

People Watching

While I’ve always enjoyed people watching, (and sometimes eavesdropping), trying to figure out       who these people are, what they’re doing and what kind of relationship they’re in; I’ve found that it’s infinitely more enjoyable to people watch when you’re having ice cream. The whole experience gets taken up several notches and because ice cream is such a pleasant experience I tend not to be as harsh in my assessments even when big doses of harsh are warranted.
That being said, I sometimes shake my head at how scary crazy some of these people are and when I see them walk away and get into the driver’s seat of a car I seriously consider giving up my car or moving to a place where horses or golf carts with a max speed of 15 MPH are the only form of transportation.

Easy A’s

I read recently that nearly half of this country’s 2016 graduating class are A students even though their average SAT scores fell from 1026 to 1002. However, grade inflation is not only on the rise in high schools. Apparently the most popular grade in colleges nationwide is an A. In fact, close to 50% of all college grades given are A’s, very different from two decades ago when the average GPA at a four-year college was 3.11.
I wonder what happens when these young people enter the work force and realize they have to work much harder to keep their jobs then they did to maintain their grades. The system is not doing them any favors.

Value

I also read recently that a Dad’s value in 2017 has risen to $26,125, a 28% increase from six years ago when it was $20, 415.
Of course before you men out there get a little puffy in the chest as you sometimes do, take note that a mothers value totaled a record $67, 619.
Interesting how the most important job a person can have is recognized and analyzed and calculated but not paid out. The work force, however, has very different standards and values associated with a woman’s unequal worth to men.
The inequities are shameful.

Whisper

During one of people watching moments, I sat and listened at a parent yelling at their children for not doing something they were told to do. The children did not seem at all fazed by this public outburst and I was reminded of something I heard a while back. Don’t yell at your children. Get real close to them and whisper. It’s much scarier.
Why parents don’t follow that simple rule is beyond me. But i don’t really mind. It makes people watching much more enjoyable.

Tipping

I always tip fairly. Whenever we go out to eat I almost never tip less than 20%, sometimes more.  You’d have to drop a meal in my lap and a bowl of soup on my head to give you less and even then, I’d feel bad short-changing  someone. Having been a server before, I understand how tough a job it is.
But it seems everywhere I go now there is a tip jar on the counter. People want tips for simply taking my money, giving me change or a piece of paper to sign a credit card slip. What’s they all about? I can’t get a loaf of bread at the bakery with a tip jar staring at me. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t put something in, now I tend not to notice them anymore. I keep waiting to find a jar at the doctor’s office or a bank. I might lose it then.

Education?

Finally, (no cheering please), there is a school district in Texas that approved by a 6-0 vote to allow corporal punishment by way of a paddle when students misbehaves at school. Of course parents have to opt in or out of the policy at the beginning of the school year. In addition to Texas, seven other states allow for corporal punishment, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
I don’t think I need to comment on this item. The information speaks for itself. You are free to form your own opinions and comment as you like.

Well, that just about wore me out. I think I’ll go get my beauty rest and try to recover with an ice cream cone.

See you soon!

 

Life Transitions

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected
Robert Frost

We never really notice them, until we do.

We move through the early years of our lives almost seamlessly, understanding the changes that occur but viewing them as nothing more than another transition. Some are more dramatic than others, even life altering, at times. But we move on, knowing there is something up ahead, another phase in our lives. A transition from childhood to adulthood. For some it may include marriage and children. For others a career, a new business, a divorce, health issues, grandchildren, travel and even loss.

But while we’re young, or younger, there is always tomorrow. There is a confidence of tomorrow that is somewhat tempered as we age. We don’t live in fear because that type of life is not really living. We just understand the reality of life. I’m more aware of my mortality at 65 than I was at 35. That’s not morbid, it just is.

It’s the reality many people refuse to speak about. People think about it but can’t seem to verbalize their feelings. Even if they did, no one would want to hear it.

I was watching a baseball game the other day with my grandson and we were talking about this young player who is in his early 20’s. And it occurred to me that this player might have a career that lasts twenty years. It also occurred to me, though I hope to live a long healthy life, that I may not be around to see the end of his career. That’s not morbid, that a reality I never thought about before. I’ve watched sports my whole life and that single thought has never crossed my mind.

I’ve transitioned from from my youth to adulthood. I married, have raised a family and have been blessed to see my children begin their own families. I was fortunate to have a good career and I’m now retired. I’ve transitioned once again but I understand that what’s behind me is very different than what’s in front of me.

That being said, I know that I will never be any younger than I am today. In many ways, I am living the youth years of the rest of my life. I don’t know if that makes sense to everyone but it does to me. It has to. Because there is much more to see, much more to do. My mind understands the number and how many trips I’ve had around the sun but it continues to rage against the machine.

I don’t know where the next transition will take me, I only know my eyes are always open.

Just know that if I become famous in my still unknown second career, I will remember everyone who hits the like button on my posts.

 

 

 

 

Remembering

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, January 10, 1946

We sometimes have a tendency to glamorize war in books and movies. Those who have been there understand it’s much worse than anything that’s been filmed or written. It never captures the brutality or long-lasting consequences.

Last fall I had an opportunity to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. When we were planning a trip to NC/Va, I came across this town and wondered why The D-Day Memorial would be placed in a small farming town of a little over six thousand people in Central Virginia. In 1940, just before World War II, Bedford numbered less than four thousand residents.

During the Battle of D-Day, Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, were among the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches of Normandy. Nineteen boys from rural Bedford were killed in the first few minutes of landing. Another three boys were killed shortly after. In all, 22 young men from Bedford lost their lives, giving this small community the distinction of having the highest number of casualties, per capita, of anywhere in the country.

           

The story of this town and those that were lost is told in a book titled, The Bedford Boys. In many ways, the town of Bedford died on D-Day. The story of the boys that were lost, how if affected their families and the town itself is a reminder that war, though sometimes necessary, has consequences that can last for generations. It’s a book that should be read by all Americans.

Today is a day we remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Please remember them and their families.

God Bless them all.

It’s the Soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech

It’s the Soldier, not the politicians,
who ensures our right to LIfe, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

We live in the land of the free
Only because of the brave.
God Bless Our Military
Unknown


Smarter Than A Fourth Grader?

For those of you unfamiliar with Amazon’s Echo and our friend, Alexa, here is a description put out by Amazon…
Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices developed by Amazon Lab126. … Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system. 

Essentially, Echo is a smart speaker and Alexa is the voice you hear providing you with answers to most any question you might have. She’s basically a know it all that you can’t see.

With that as a backdrop, I was teaching a fourth grade class the other day and we were just beginning our math period by reviewing the previous night’s homework. Individual students would give an answer and if everyone was in agreement we’d move on. If not, we’d work out the problem on the board so everyone understood.
After James gave his answer, a couple of students sold him out and began laughing, saying he cheated because he asked Alexa for the answer. I looked over at James and his eyes were looking down and his face was red.
I was trying not to laugh because i never considered Alexa as a resource for homework but then again, I’m not a clever nine-year old with easy options available to him. So the very brief conversation went like this…

Me (smiling): James, did you use Alexa to do your math homework last night?

James (looking at his “friends”): You don’t how I did my homework!

Me: James, I’m not upset if you did, I’m just curious if Alexa helped you with your homework.

James: (looking at me with his face still red): Yeah, but after she gave me the answer, I did the problem myself. I wanted to check her to make sure she was right.

Me (trying not to laugh out loud): So you checked Alexa to make sure she didn’t make a mistake?

James: Yeah.

The class became quiet and looked at me to see what I would say but I don’t sell out clever nine-year olds who can think on their feet in front of their peers. So I simply said, “that was smart,” and we moved on.

I’m not sure what kind of lesson James learned that day, if any, or if he understood he was scamming the system a bit and might try doing it another way in the future. It’s possible.
All I know is that when I glanced back up at him a few seconds later he was smiling and his face wasn’t red anymore. I’m guessing he was feeling pretty good about himself.

And that was good enough for me.

 

Ignorance On Steroids

Ignorance always seems to find a season. It never seems to max out, regardless of how bizarre the situation might be. There are always people willing to do something that some moron decided might be a good idea.

A few days ago I read an article about a game show in the Netherlands where male contestants were asked to guess whether woman on the show are fat or pregnant.

Really.

This is the same game show that asked contestants last year to guess whether a person was Japanese or Chinese, and in another segment, whether a woman’s breasts were real.

I have a pretty broad sense of humor but I didn’t think this was funny. It was simply dumbed down sensationalism at it’s worst.

I decided not provide the name of the show because I don’t want to give it any more publicity than it has already received. But as I thought about it, I wondered who I should be most upset with. The producers for financially supporting this show? The station for putting it on the air? The viewing public for watching? The advertisers? I mean there is a sufficient about of blame to go around here.
But the bottom line is, you don’t have a show if no one agrees to participate. If people who were paid to appear on it had a shred of sensitivity, decency or self worth, this or any show like it, would never find air time and maybe we wouldn’t still be having misogynistic or discriminatory discussions.

But it seems like many people have a price, and that number is not very high. My guess is it’s just a little north of their IQ.

 

Death And Sales

You probably thought the only sure things in life were death and taxes, didn’t you. Well, we can throw one more thing into the pot roast of life’s guaranties.

Death and sales. I don’t remember the last time it wasn’t a sure thing.

Chuck Berry died last weekend. A rock and roll pioneer without question; he was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and influenced generations of artists.  But Chuck’s last hit record was back in the early 70’s and he had been averaging 39 album sales prior to his death.

But then he died and his record sales increased 11,684 percent. Really.

Now this is not unusual. The same thing has happened following the death of other musicians and I’m having a difficult time understanding the mentality. Then again, the human mind is difficult to figure out on a good day.
But really, what compels people to buy an artists music after they die when they had no interest in doing so before they died? The music has been out there for decades, readily available. Why are they enough of a fan now to buy their music, but not before? Chuck’s songs have been around since the fifties. They’ve been all over the radio, movies, television, etc, forever. If people liked these songs before, why did they wait until he died to download them? It’s the same song. Sung by the same artist. But they like it better today? Are they afraid it’s going to somehow disappear or that Apple will go out of business? Do people sit around and wait for the evening news to decide what they should download that night based on the obituary reports? Does the music somehow sound better after someone dies? It all sounds a little macabre to me.

In some ways, this same phenomena happens in food stores the day before a snowstorm. People rush out to stock up on essentials because the roads may be snow-covered for maybe a day. Maybe. I always feel like they’re expecting Armageddon to arrive and bread will be have to be bartered with a laptop.

I wonder if all my blog posts will suddenly be in monetary demand when I’m no longer around. Maybe I should fake my demise, stay away for a couple of years and reap the financial rewards after I decide to return from my self-imposed disappearance. Sort of like an Eddie and the Cruisers thing.

Okay, I think might be getting a little carried away.