I resist no longer






Each day some of my ‘What I Can Do’ becomes ‘What I Used To Do.’ It hurts my eyes to read lables on cans and little boxes. I strain to see my fingernails when I am cutting them.

Dr Optometrist says my eyes are still good. I’m not ready for bifocals, yet, but he suggested ‘readers.’ I bought a three-pack at the drug store. They are wonderful!

Other news: I used my first senior discount at the movies. First time. Asking for it was easy, but realizing I could use it anytime thereafter for the rest of my life bothered me.

I looked into the mirror and saw my father. Yay.





Barely 115 lbs. I’m the one on the far right.

W.O.R.C. Sayville, New York.

So Happy Together!


July 31, 1982 (Houston, Texas)


Twenty-eight years ago I married Miss Beauty Of The World. It doesn’t seem that long ago. Since then there have five addresses, two houses, two children, three jobs (me), two jobs (her) and three dogs. She still has her wedding dress. I can’t remember where the tuxedo came from.

 We still love each other. Thank you, God, for all you have given us.


A Twenty-two Year Project



1990, two years into the effort

Last week my youngest son sent me a short text message from the University of Minnesota, Duluth: “DONE.” He just announced he had taken the last final of his undergraduate career. Although he was floating on air,  I sat back in my chair, stunned. That one word said the twenty-two year project was really over. From now on he was on his own.


2010, at UM-D, graduation day

He is going on to law school in the fall, to a city far away. From there he hopes to catch a future of international life. He’s drawn to urban excitement and drama, none of the things to be found here, or so he tells me. Whatever. All I understand is that he’s probably not coming back here once he departs.

There’s a million clichés I could share, but I won’t. I can’t sort the complex feelings of pride and … worry. But mostly I’m filled with a sense of accomplishment. We always set a future for our kids. We told them to think about tomorrow as well as today. And Lord have mercy, but he did it! Our other son, the twenty-five year project, moved out on his own a few years ago. He’s in the Navy, “somewhere in the Persian Gulf.”

It’s really just the two of us now. Back to where we started. We’ll have to build some new dreams for ourselves.

My wife and I went to his commencement up in Duluth. As we sat there, I recalled it was nearly thirty years ago that I graduated from Indiana University. When I got home, I dug out the old photos and found a picture with a note on the back. It was the exact May day, in 1980, written in my mother’s hand.



1980, me, I.U., Bloomington, IN

Ah, more emotions.

Thank you, God. How rich we are!

Gen Y Will Make It To Middle Age, But What Will They Look Like?




Hand it to The Onion, they nailed another parody. This time the Twentysomethings were in their sights. Like all ascendant generations, Gen Y cannot see itself in decline. If you live in the Now, you cannot see the Tomorrow. Yes, there is a Tomorrow and they’re going to turn into  their parents, only in a discolored, mutilated sort of way.

 Those tattoos? They will turn into shriveled dark green, blotches that will head inches south when they’re fifty. The piercings? Sorry, those holes won’t close up. Their eyebrows will still look like a shower curtain, but a really wrinkled one. Emo hair? Just ask yourself how ‘Emo’ it will be when the hairline arches from ear-to-ear. Jason Mraz will be be an ‘oldies’ performer at Branson and they will pay big money to see him.

I just hope to be around to see this magazine cover in thirty years’ time, for surely it will happen. Popular culture will bend to the norms of the prosperous generation, which will be  you, Team Gen Y. You will be the Boomers of 2040!

If I’m still alive, I’ll be in the Check-out Generation, ready to flit the mortal coil. But I’ll still wag my finger at you when you visit me in the raisin ranch. “I told you so!”

My Meadow



  Turf is the garden’s sea;
It surrounds and recedes;
Verdant currents to floral shores.
Soft is the grass, comfort in the summer’s eve.

Troubles fade when I tread in a shade-dappled sward.         
I love to cut it. I think about Things when I mow.
There is a Zen to this.
Grass smells good then, sweet and earthy.
Swallows dive and dip as my mower’s prow leads on;
They seek the moths that flutter into the air.
SNAP the swallows feast!





 When I was younger and my sons were small,
We played in the grass.
We tumbled down hills,
On our backs,
Watching airplanes and contrails.
They laughed and laughed. I still can hear the bells in their little voices.
Older, they played tag,
Chased friends,
Rolled about with the dog,
Slept in a tent.

 They are men now.



 The two of us remain.
We walk the garden together,
Swishing the blades with our shoes, our toes.

Our lawn brings so many birds:
Robins hop;
Doves wobble;
The killdeer stalks;
And the bluebird sits above,
Waiting for food to show itself.
The birds feast well in this green sea;
They repay me with a thousand songs an hour.

   My yard has few weeds — I do not like them.
Alien and foreign are the ratty clover,
The coarse dandelion, the prickly thistle.
Why do people sneer at weed-free lawns? I do not understand this.




A lawn is a garden, too

The fruit, the petal, the blade… is there a difference?
They are all gifts for us.
Do we approach them?
Arraign them?
Savor them all?
Ought we not them deploy them all in the garden?     

The soul aches for green after many months.
When the geese return and the warblers flit,
And Nature makes the green things green,
There’s a gift, to me, to you,

From God


Laudato si, mi signore, per sora nostra matre terra,
laquale ne sustenta et governa,
et produce diverse fructi
con coloriti flori et herba.

Laudate et benedicite, mi signore,
et rengratiate et servite lo
cum grande humilitate.

( All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and colored flowers and grass.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility. )

— excerpt from the ‘Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon’ by St. Francis of Assisi.

I Wear Old People Sunglasses. From Walgreens.


Last winter I lost my prescription Dolce and Gabbana shades in Cairo. They fell into the Nile when I was making my way up a catwalk to a ferry. I tried to be philosophical about it, rationalizing my loss was an offering to the ancient gods in an exotic place. But I really was upset: I looked GOOD wearing them and they cost a fortune.

Back in the States I couldn’t find a replacement at the optometrist. Oh, they could be specially ordered, but the price was outrageous. Still, I needed sunglasses, so I pulled into Walgreen’s to get an ‘emergency’ pair.




I found these ugly-useful sunglasses that slip over my regular eyeglasses. I checked them out in the little greasy display mirror. I saw an old dude looking back at me. In a hurry, I bought them anyway and tossed them in the car as ‘driving glasses.’

Damn, but these are the best sunglasses I have ever worn! They fit like a dream, are high-UV filtered and they block bright light on all sides. They look godawful, but guess what? I don’t care!  

And so I’ve come to realize this is how one accepts aging: comfort trumps appearance and cost reigns over style. I’m over fifty now and more than halfway through life. Sure, style matters, but now it’s a different, inner style. Appearance is still very important, but I’m not into impressing people at my age. I’ll still draw the lines at those hideous, boxy Senior Shoes from SAS. Well, for now, anyway. Maybe in another twenty years when I’m two inches shorter and my toes are bent, I’ll welcome those, too.

My clunky sunglasses (my wife and I call them ‘sungoggles’) come with several benefits:

  1. The younger adult, who lives with us, takes stuff and never returns any of it, won’t touch them.
  2. My wife bought a pair – they come in only one style – and we can each wear the other’s glasses. They’re andro!
  3. Young people scatter before you in public places.
  4. Or, they hold doors open for you. Sometimes this is a good thing.
  5. And if you’re a person who cannot be in public without eye makeup, just slip one of these babies on if you must leave the house in an emergency.
  6. Finally, they are so ugly, they don’t accessorize at all. Which means they go with everything (if you stop giving a damn about your appearance).