Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

As I age, several noticable insights occur to me. One obvious realization is that I am slowing down physically-much to my dislike, and I have more aches & pains than when I was younger. I know many of you can relate, and if you can’t, just wait !

Another realization which is not new to me, but continues to be reflected in our culture, is the speed in which our social fabric as a people and nation is changing. I know that every generation has dislikes about the next one and visa versa, but with the proliferation of digital social media, there are so many divisive issues which explode upon us daily. And, they do affect us.

Much to my dismay, I have become more cynical, and I detest being so. This, too, is another realization, but one I am striving to change. I believe this is one reason I love nature so much because God’s natural world thrives without human foibles and selfish motives. Certainly, aspects of nature seem to be cruel, but it is also pure and almost limitless in its bounty and beauty..

There is a profound and positive influence at this juncture in my life that I wish to expound upon briefly. Children, and in particular, my grandchildren. When we have conversations about serious to silly stuff, I almost always come away enlightened. Although they lack perspective which only comes through years and trials, they provide a response which is so appealing to me. From simple faith to questioning hard things, a child’s mind is a wonderful gift to all of us. They see the world with a freshness before it becomes tarnished with many of life’s negative experiences.

In 1957, Art Linkletter wrote a book entitled, “Kids Say the Darnest Things“. He was a prolific author and a television personality who hosted a TV show called House Party which aired from 1952 to 1970. He showcased everyday children who provided unrehearsed answers to questions he posed. Most answers were insightful and often extremely funny. As some may recall, Bill Cosby had a TV show using Art’s book title which aired from 1998 to 2000. He used the same format as Art’s show which resulted in the same innocent and stunning responses to his questions.

Life changes all of us;sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. Children grow to become teenagers. Teens become young adults. They, in turn, become middle aged adults-some with kids and some without. Then the middle-aged folk become seniors (I really don’t like that term, but we must be called something, I guess).

This is the part where young children provide us with unadulterated beauty. One doesn’t have to be a parent or grandparent to recognize this fact…one simply has to be open to their existence and contribution. I am a realist and know that not everything which proceeds from a child’s voice is pleasant. Screams, argueing, whinning, backtalking, etc. can be nerve-racking. However, I submit that given a decent environment and opportunities, a child’s voice-which is just an extension of his or her’s heart and thoughts-can have a positive impact upon our daily outlook and response to life. They do for me.

I look forward to many more enlightenments.

A Little Bit of Pure Joy

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It’s hard not to smile when you see this photograph, is it? This is Elliot when he was two years old and was fascinated by water and electricity…not the best combination unless one wants to become a hydro-electric engineer! He is smart enough to be that.

Winter here has been bitter cold for our region with intermittent sleet and snow mixed in. Most everyone I talk to says they can’t wait for Summer. Elliot and Audrie, his younger sister, enjoy each season.  Bitter cold winters must be a getting-older-dynamic! Although, having mom and dad layer on the clothes and pull out the sleds is a plus for them. Us more mature folks have no such luxury.

P.S. I know that other parts of our country have been much harder hit with snow and blizzards and zero degree temps. We don’t whine here in the Midwest, just state the facts.

Hope you enjoy the photograph and the joy Elliot felt at the time…as did Cheryl and myself. Looking forward to not only warmer weather, but more joyful times!



After a major holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, literally millions of homes have enough food left over to feed armies of thousands of homeless, poor, tragedy-stricken people through-out the ‘so-called’ civilized world.

Those of us in the techno-world are bombarded with ads about the less fortunate in need of the basics of life. All the while many of us can’t place another scrap of food in our tummy’s. I sit guilty so I throw no stones. I consider myself blessed in so many ways.




These Mayan children seem to suffer no malnutrition, but do they know what a leftover is? I could present a plethora of images of starving children, but why do so, as we have all seen them on TV or in magazines or internet feeds? The point is simple. Really, it is.

Enjoy what you have, be thankful for it, and give away what you can to those less fortunate, especially to children. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”. May we all be like little children in one way or another.

Happy New Year  !


36,000 Feet

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Many of you have witnessed this dynamic  view from a commercial jet. This one was flying at 525 mph at an altitude of 36,00 feet. We must have had a decent tailwind because we arrived almost twenty minutes early. Typically, most commercial jets fly around 400 to 450 mph to preserve fuel.

Flying from the east coast to Kansas City, the cloud covering began to thicken as we got closer to our destination. I like clouds and find them fascinating as long as I am above them or below them…not so much when I am in the midst of them. Flying in a bus with wings is equally as fascinating. After the Wright Brothers, Bleriot and Curtis changed the concept of “lighter than air travel”, literally the sky became the limit. Needless to say, our lives have been changed forever.

Instead of taking a steam ship across an ocean, a stage coach across the plains or walking from one village to another, man’s expectations and ingenuity created newer and faster and more comfortable means of travel. Considering how we traverse the world (much less our city or rural countryside) we have leaped ahead a century into impatient people who can’t stand to wait a moment longer to board a plane , a train, a rental car or taxi. A far cry from not that long ago. Waiting was simply a part of life then and still is in many parts of our world.

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Perhaps the most daunting challenge concerning flying in this century is going through security and obtaining our boarding pass (if not done ahead of time). It is not just the process, but also there are a certain amount of travelers who are in hyper-mode and can be quite rude at times. Ever missed a flight? I have. Was it enjoyable? No. Did I survive? Yes. Will I travel by jet again? Yes. Although I haven’t traveled on Virgin Airlines to-date, I believe Richard Branson had it right when he said that air travel should be less stressful and more enjoyable. He had the money to change that and he created a new and different commercial airline company. Kudos to him for doing so.

On my flight back from Philadelphia I witnessed numerous young families with babies and toddlers. They were pushing strollers, carrying bags, pulling bags, walking with backpacks and children in arms. One would expect these parents would be the most rude and less understanding about all of the rules and waiting. Instead, I found them to be the most patient and pleasant of all the travelers I encountered. So, why are those who have the most issues to deal with the most patient and pleasant. Perhaps dealing with issues on a regular basis, and knowing what to expect prepared them for the task ahead with the end result being worth it. Whether visiting family and /or friends or vacationing, they took all of the hassles in stride. It’s kind of like our ancestors did before technology “simplified” our lives. I appreciated the 36,000 feet ride back home more than ever…even with babies crying.

River Rocks



There is something soothing about a clear mountain stream flowing steadily to its destination. Not a roaring river, or rapids, nor a trickle, but a swift movement of water which glides gently over the rock base with hardly a ripple…like liquid glass.

I love to stare at these photographs for the sheer simplicity and sublime natural beauty. The rock base with its myriad of colors and shapes, and the movement of water creating subtle illusionary effects is almost enchanting. Of course, I am biased because I vividly recall taking the photographs of the Merced River as it carves it way through the Yosemite Valley. Not far from this peaceful scene are several powerful waterfalls which reveal the force of water which cuts away rock and earth like a hammer and chisel.




Water is fascinating. When it flows it can be refreshingly relaxing or extremely destructive. It can be harnessed to create electricity, and manipulated to rise and fall to accommodate changes in elevations as with canal locks. Moving water can be lovely to behold as the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas attests to with it shooting water shows, and pleasant to be near when relaxing by a sculptured fountain. And moving water can be just plain fun as can be seen on the faces of children running through a sprinkler, descending down a water slide or bobbing up and down on breaking ocean waves near a beach.




What would we do without water?  Hint; absolutely nothing!



It Seems Like Only Yesterday…

misc 024 “It seems like only yesterday….”, so goes the old, but oh-so-true adage about our concept of time amid obvious changes that we cannot fully grasp occurring in a particular span of time. Case in point is my grandson, Elliot Michael. It was only one year ago that the little guy was born to my daughter and son-in-law. That was such a joyous occasion (If interested, I revealed that experience in a year-old post called, A Son is Born). Today, I would like to share some thoughts and feelings which are a culmination of observations and experiences I developed over the course of my life, and in particular this past year.

I was twenty-four years old when our son was born. Jared came a bit early, but we were thrilled, and totally unprepared for what the next two decades would bring to our lives. When Ramie was born two years later, we had a better understanding of what to expect and how to respond, but we were still in ‘learning mode’. As a parent, I don’t think we really ever graduate from Raising Children; we simply advance from course 101 to 203 or 404. I am still learning about parenting, and the funny thing is, I have been granted the title of grandparent without graduating from the prerequisite. Now that I have been thrust into another classroom about something I am ill-prepared for, ie. grandparenting, I will try to do my best to assist Elliot’s parents in whatever way they may need me. Cheryl is already on top of this. I am confident Elliot will receive every good thing necessary to live a fulfilling life (even in spite of me!).IMG_2001

From total helplessness to walking (still a bit unsteady), from staring blankly at objects to observing people intently, from barely following movement to never being still, and from simply mimicking what others do to cognitively acting out as a result of astute reasoning and trial-and-error is an amazing transformation in such a short period of time! It is almost inconceivable that each one of us started out this way. Truly, watching a child grow is likened to one of those time-lapse videos of a plant which breaks forth from the earth, grows the stem with leaves unfurling, and a bloom forms which opens to a flower. Or, witnessing this same dynamic with a simple caterpillar spinning a cocoon and eventually emerging as a beautiful butterfly. “Wow!” is about all I can say. The development of a child in year one is dramatic. And, there is so much more change to occur. Already, Elliot is babbling as if he were carrying on a conversation with us. I so much want to know what he is thinking. That would be fun!                                                                                                                 From the very first caress and the fragrance of a newborn’s breath, I knew my life would never be the same. That was true with my children, and is also true of my grandchild. Despite the struggles involved with an infant–little rest, a variety of illnesses, disposition issues, bumps and bruises–the payoff came when I held that little one in my arms and gave nourishment through a bottle, all the while marveling at the wonder which I embraced. The silence of such moments inevitably ended, but the spell that was cast cannot be, no, will never be broken. Elliot is now a toddler, and then there will be other stages of life which will zoom by too quickly. I know this, and so do you. So, enjoy them all…even the tough ones.

When I see my grandson, I see Jared and I see Ramie. When I witness Cheryl caring for Elliot, I see her doing the same for our children. As I have watched Matt play with Elliot, I recall doing the same with our children. And, when I watch my daughter interacting with her son I have to remind myself that this mother was once my child. And then my thoughts turn to Elliot’s future. What will he be most interested in?  Will he be athletic like his dad and mom? Will he have a sense of humor like most of his family (both sides)? Will he read a lot and enjoy nature, and like animals?  I was going to ask if he would be shy, but I believe I know the answer to that question! Too much to consider so I will attempt to focus on the here and now…the rest will sort itself out.IMG_2025

I have been truly blessed in so many ways. I feel like Lou Gehrig, the NY Yankee who contracted ALS-later to be known by his name-when he gleefully stated at his farewell address to the fans of New York, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. To him, being a ball player for a successful major league baseball team for 17 years while having adoring fans was paramount to a life of ultimate fulfillment (in spite of his disease). Humbly, I feel the same about being a parent and grandparent. I am reminded that one day Elliot will become a man, yet he will always be my grandson.   Happy Birthday !Elliot & Carson 10-3-14