Roads Traveled

This is a bit of nostalgia penned after driving some of the back roads of Maine and passing old farms, many no longer active. My thoughts took me to the days when they were still alive and times were both harder and simpler.
A hank of damp hair hangs limply on her forehead. With the back of a work reddened hand she brushes it from her face. From the galvanized tub before her, she withdraws a well worn shirt from the murky water and places it on the weathered washboard. With lye soap in hand, she scrubs the sweat stained collar, stopping only to assess her progress. Her back aches from the stooped position she maintains. It shows in her posture when, upon completion, her bowed body carries the basket of wet clothes into the yard and begins hanging them on the line.
She is alone, free to occupy her mind with random thoughts. Things to do, always so many things to do. Things she has done or would like to . She allows herself a little flight of whimsy, thinking back to the days of her youth. She was pretty then. At least, the boys told her she was and she never corrected them. She would use her impish smile to flirt and lead them on. She would watch them try to outdo each other, acting the fool to gain her attention. Like the time Bobby Edson brought her a bouquet of goldenrod although he was allergic to the weed. She allows herself a quiet chuckle as she remembers him standing there, eyes watering, nose running, and trying so hard to be a man.
But that was a long time ago. Many years since William, her sweet William, with slicked down hair, starched shirt, and Sunday suit, stuttered through a request for her hand. And how, on her wedding day, he had borrowed his daddy’s old Ford for their one night honeymoon at the Regal Hotel in town, only to have it break down a mile from the house, and William walking back to get some help. Such a tragedy then, yet so humorous now.
Where did those days go? When did life lose it’s luster and become so predictable. All the years, one day stacked against another. Two boys, grown now, out in the fields with their dad. Truth is, William would not be able to do it without them, but don’t try to tell him that. While his body may have weakened, as has hers, their real strength lies within their love for each other. They have not been strangers to their share of heartbreak, as with the loss of their only little girl. But they have also had their share of blessings too. Be thankful she muses. He won’t give you more then you can handle.
The wayward curl again escapes and cascades down her face. Absently, she brushes it back in place, and with a last glance toward the fields where tractor dust rises, she blows a kiss, and turns back toward the house.

Posted in Aging, Beauty, Children, Family, Generations, Home, Life, Love, Marriage, Memories, Reflection, Short Story, Was | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gone Are The Days

Gone are the days when we strolled through the heather
Gone is the laughter we shared
Back when our days were spent most together
Back when for each other we cared

Time was cruel when it played with our heartstrings
When absence forced us apart
Loosening the threads from which young love springs
Forcing our dreams to depart

Now all alone, I still stroll through the heather
Trying to recapture those days
All of my thoughts to my memories I tether
Heightening my malaise

I capture a sense of you here in the heather
Your laughter still rings in my ear
I imagine we once again are together
That somehow you will reappear

Are there ever times when you still think about me
Of the time when our hearts were entwined
Do you ever wonder how different things could be
Had we not left each other behind

Posted in Life, Love, Memories, Poetry, Reflection, Relationships, Rhyme, Sad, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wolf Wisdom

wolf 1

“A wolf pack on the move – the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the direction and pace to the entire pack. If it were the other way around, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed; then come 5 strong ones, the front line. In the center are the rest of the pack members; then the 5 strongest following.

Last and alone, the Alpha. He controls everything from the rear. In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack.

The pack moves according to the elders’ pace and help each other, watch each other.

I didn’t know wolves put the elders of the pack FIRST… a lot of people on this planet should take note… they are to be seen up front, setting the pace and direction while enjoying the protection of the rest… and not invisible at the back of the line.

Posted in Aging, Family, Insight, Life, Relationships, Unity, Vision, Wildlife, Wolves | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Late To Be Scared

My involvement in youth today has been reduced to a spectator sport. So many years have passed since I was one that it seems kind of speculative that I was ever in the game. When I think back to those days and the things I did that seemed so right at the time, I often come away with the same question. What The Hell Was I Thinking!!!
When you are young it seems, you are Teflon. Nothing sticks to you. Everything is open to exploration without reservation. Act first and think later. Taste everything, without any real regard for possible consequences. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it doesn’t deter you from trying whatever the next thing is that catches your interest.
I guess in it’s own way, this is part of our preparation for adulthood. Choices are not the sole domain of the young. Once we sign in and begin life, everything suddenly is subject to exploration and discovery. I think the only thing that changes is that the cocktail of the adult is mixed with a shot of discretion, to be sipped as opposed to gulped.
I have, however, come to realize that ‘older’ and ‘wiser’, are not necessarily joined at the hip. Some of the things I have done, said, or believed throughout my life have left something to be desired. And in retrospect, in their own ways, were as free from serious thought as some from my youth.
The thing I find most interesting, and amusing, is that regardless of the decade, I did these things without fear. They apparently seemed so inherently logical at the time that to not do, say, or think them would have been scary. I have often heard it said “someday we will look back at this and laugh.” In many cases, I can do that now, as the danger has passed. I also don’t kid myself that I have many marginal decisions still to make, and have no reason to believe they will all be right. But in making them, I have learned to consider one thing. You only have one chance, but you always have two choices.

From the archives March 2014

Posted in Aging, Generations, Life, Opinions, Perspective, Random Thoughts, Reflection, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Divide

I just got a new cell phone.  Another one.  Not that I needed it.  It’s just that, well, it was a good price, there was no contract, and it would cost me less per year then the old one. Oh, and it had a larger screen.  Somehow, of all the features, being able to see them has become a favorite.

Using my phone is still somewhat of a mystery to me.  It does, and probably always will do more things then I will ever figure out how to do.  After all, this is a phone in name only.  It is in reality a calculator, wifi, memo, calendar, video recording, gps, camera, gallery, fm radio, file manager, contact list, clock, downloader, recorder, task manager, voice/text communicator.  So it is with some trepidation that I approach it when it starts making noises.  That is because I do not know what noise goes with what function.  The only one that is instinctive is when someone calls me.  Beyond that, it is a scavenger hunt.  Let’s see.  Did someone just leave me a message? No.  How about a voicemail? No.  Maybe an appointment reminder? No.  Well, I’ll just assume it was another one of those annoying notification updates and do what I always do.  Ignore it.

It is probably becoming obvious that I am self taught.  Like most men, I only ask for directions as a last resort, and then only if I can find them.  I remember seeing them the day I got the phone, but after a cursory review, and concluding that they were intimidating, they seem to have disappeared.  So I spend a lot of time pushing things and seeing what happens.  I call it Androidquest.  I like it because you cannot lose.  You may not achieve what you set out to do, but you have got to have learned something in the process.  I can spend hours just in Settings.

One of my favorite things is voice response.  Inside my phone is this brilliant tiny little woman that, like most women, knows everything. (Come on ladies, don’t hate me.  I don’t get on your case because you leave the toilet seat down). Every time I ask her something, she has the answer at her fingertips.  Amazing. One day I asked her “what is the meaning of life” chuckle, chuckle.  She instantly replied “It’s somewhere between 41 and 43”.  I didn’t understand the answer, but then again, it was probably equal to the quality of the question.

A mystery that I am still unraveling is  texting.  I started very slowly and am now up to glacial speed, since I don’t do abbreviation speak.   In fact, on a particularly long message the other day, I am sure I heard my phone yawn.  Or it could just have been the operating system updating.  After all, I have had it 30 days.  I first tried texting on my old phone, but spent as much time correcting what I wrote as I did constructing the message. Either my fingers were too big or the keys too small. But I loved the auto fill where it figures out the word you want and lets you select it.  I put that right up there with the 7 wonders of the world.  That is, until I discovered speech to text.  Oh baby.  Turn me loose.  There was no stopping me, once it got used to my Maine accent.  Had some pretty weird sentences before that though.

But, for an old codger (there’s a word that is a old as I am), I manage to participate relatively well in the electronic revolution.  For a guy that took typing in high school and grew up with rotary phones, I manage to get by.  And, I dare say I can work with todays phones better then the younger generation can work with mine.  Check out the enclosed video.  Whose struggling now?




Posted in Artificial Intel, Cell Phone, Generations, Kids, Random Thoughts, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Moving Experience


I was standing, idly looking out the front window when I saw the moving van creep slowly up the street. I didn’t have to guess where it was going. The house behind me had recently sold, and I was sure the material world of our new neighbors was contained in that trailer.
We have moved eleven times over the last fifty years, some local, some long distance, so I had a great degree of empathy for my new neighbors. It is never easy, physically or psychologically to move. For several days before the actual departure, your house becomes the domain of a team of packers. You watch entire rooms being dismantled and stuffed in boxes, and although they are skilled at packing, they are in fact compensated for speed. The personal quickly becomes impersonal. We have had a bud vase with bud and water intact, wrapped and packed in a box. Also a dirty ashtray with the butts included.
Then the day arrives when the large empty van pulls up to the house, and several total strangers move throughout your house, emptying the rooms. Boxes are wheeled, carried, slid, and shoved into spaces assuring a tight load. Pieces of your life are strewn across the front lawn. You worry that something will get broken, and it will. You hope nothing gets left behind, so, for the eighteenth time, you recheck all the closets, cabinets, and drawers. Slowly, throughout the day, your life is sucked into the cavernous void of the truck until, at last, the doors are closed and a lifetime of belongings disappear into the distance.
That’s when the quiet sets in and for the last time, you wander through the empty rooms, turning off lights, your footsteps echoing on the wooden floors. And that is the moment when what was your home becomes just a house. You lock the front door and walk away, looking back at the shell of what was, seeing only the memories.
I always experienced a sense of loss. Life as I knew it was gone and until we neared our destination, the new house, I missed having the comfort of the familiar. Yesterday was past and tomorrow was still ahead. Today, we were in limbo. It wasn’t until we actually arrived that a new sense, a sense of excitement set in. And when we unlocked the door for the first time, and our footsteps echoed again on wooden floors, that is when my heart gladdened and I began to look forward to what was to come.
And I would stand idly looking out the front window, waiting for the moving van to creep slowly up the street.
From the archives March 2013

Posted in Future, Home, Insight, Life, Memories, Random Thoughts, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Love With A Capital D

forever dog
I love dogs (OK and cats too).  Always have.  Ever since I was a kid I had this kinship.  Even through three dog bites, the romance continued.  I’m not sure if that says something about them or about me.  Today, we have two dogs, who are just the latest in a long list of canine friends that have owned us over the years.  Although one of our current residents is a full blooded Cocker Spaniel he, like most of the rest, is a rescue dog.

Back before the advent of abundant computer websites, my wife and I would go down to the local  kennel and wait until one of the strays picked us out.  I remember one such trip when I had kind of decided on a spunky pup, only to find that another, less active one had curled up and gone to sleep on my wife’s foot.  Game, set, match.

Today it’s a little different.  I have spent a lot of time on search sites like Petfinder, staring into the often sad and longing eyes of survivors that tend to wrap themselves around my heart.  As such, I have become much more familiar with what we refer to today as rescue dogs and cats. 

Our two dogs came from different kennels, but both were in Arkansas.  So how did they get here?  With a lot of help from their friends it turns out.  I call them Canine Caravans.  Groups of volunteers that run an underground railroad of sorts, moving their charges from one town or state to another until they reach their adoption destination.

Who are these people, who care enough to spend their time, money, and love on these homeless dogs and cats.  It turns out that I know one.  Craig lives in Louisville Ky.  He and I worked together, in another life, before retiring.  Today, he spends much of his time as a Zone Manager, coordinating and maintaining volunteer lists for ten states and Canada, and as a driver for the Kindred Hearts Transport Connection.   It is one of the larger transport organizations, encompassing about 6000 volunteers and staff.  And, there are also a lot of grass root volunteer transport operations throughout the states that he sometimes also gets calls from to assist if they have a rider coming through his area.

Craig told me about the complexities of such an effort. There is so much more to the operation then sticking a dog in the back seat and driving off.  Volunteers must first be qualified by determining their interests, i.e. driving, mapping, home visitations, coordinating, etc. after which they are expected to meet strict requirements to assure the well being of every animal being transported. Everything is done with the animals welfare and comfort being foremost, down to confirming the condition of the rider at each transfer point, i.e. a barker, or rides well, or wants to jump out of vehicle, etc. which is then relayed to the remaining drivers on the trip. 

Not so long ago, when major storms racked Puerto Rico and Houston, I saw much in the news about the efforts of rescue groups to shelter strays and pets separated from their families, moving them to the safety of kennels and foster homes further north. I have always had admiration for those that actually staff the kennels and assure the health and hope of the strays that are between homes, assisting in their adoption.  But now, I must add some new heroes.  Those that make the transportation actually happen.  The thousands of people like Craig that spend many hours per year at their own expense, assuring that every stray in their care is treated with compassion as they travel to their new forever homes, their only reward being the knowledge that a homeless dog or cat has been given another chance at life.  To them, it doesn’t get much better then that.

P.S.  I have attached the following link with pictures of success stories posted by some of those drivers.

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Reflection, strays | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments