Saturday, January 31, 2015


Unfair advantage
So often bad things happen to good
people. Said events are invariably
unfair and inflicted by other human
beings. Why purposefully mistreat,
abuse, or damage others? Usually
greed, jealousy, or pure evil drives
some to act like animals. After one
is wronged theres little to do but
take the whipping and move on.
Post trauma, it's best to learn from
your mistakes. Otherwise residual
resentment could drive you to go
ape over things you can't control.

That funny feeling
You see, it's often our fault. If we're truly
honest with ourselves - we knew trouble
was coming. Somewhere deep within us
a voice of caution whispered. Yet we did
not heed the call. Warning lights flashed
and instead of taking a detour we blindly
proceeded forward. Internal sirens told
of danger ahead however rather than take
an alternative route, we went down the
wrong path. Every step of the way our
"gut" instinct continued to do everything
possible to warn us of the dangers ahead.
Instead we ignored the signs but why?
Deaf and dumb
We must be stupid or arrogant. Otherwise
why wouldn't we see the handwriting on
the wall and avoid disaster? In truth our
unwillingness to listen to our inner voice
is probably due to a lack of confidence.
While it may seem easier to put our trust
in others - it's probably better to embrace
the devil we know rather those we are at
best barely acquainted with. Slowly after
having the veritable excrement kicked out
of us one too many times - most of us are
willing to embrace that we're not as dumb
as we thought. And, life becomes easier.
Primal urge
Nobody can force you to learn a lesson.
Most self education happens the hard
way. While deep down one knows they
learn the most through hardship, few
want to take a refresher course at the
school of hard knocks. So we continue
to make horrible mistakes. Rather than
evolve, we revolve - spinning about in
an effort to avoid another screw up.
Climbing out of that pit of traumatic
stress syndrome - we're bruised and
battered yet wiser. Proof that most of
us can easily evolve to a better place.
Two timers
Today two young people dropped by
for some advice. They had entered
a partnership with just a handshake.
Foolishly they took another party at
their word. They worked hard and
after several months of commitment
their efforts yielded success. Sadly
they did this all without a written or
signed agreement. Then suddenly the
rules of engagement changed after
selective amnesia caused their silent
partner to reinterpret the deal in HIS
favor. It was his word against theirs.
Gut instinct
I asked if they had sensed trouble prior.
Both admitted they'd never trusted said
partner. Deep down they knew that
something was wrong. Rather than
trust that gut instinct, they gambled
and lost. While both had the most
honorable of intentions, their friend
was a foe with an unfair advantage.
In the end all was not lost. After all
was said and done, they learned that
it's best to always listen to your "gut."
Otherwise it's almost certain that an
someone will hit you under the belt.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Starting the day right

Sunrise surprise
Our last few days on the road have
been illuminating. Often one must
leave home in order to realize what
one is blessed to have and... also
what might be missing. I struggle
with eating a proper breakfast. In
theory I know it's good for me. But
in reality I usually forget to eat one.
Once I've downed my French press
full of coffee, I think I can conquer
the world. However after enjoying
a full breakfast for several days I'm
certain that something is missing.
Never too late?
Frank and I are opposites in many ways
and that yin and yang works most of
the time. Every morning I'm up early
while every night he's up late. In truth
we're together most of the day but we
can't seem to align on breakfast. Rather
than starve I should just give up and eat
a healthy breakfast alone. But instead
I wait... and wait until it's brunch. The
idea of running on empty for four or
five hours mades no sense. By the time
I sit down to eat I'm run down, tired,
and most definitely over caffeinated.
On the side
So I've become a nibbler. After I
make my java I grab whatever is
leftover from the evening before
on the way upstairs to my office.
If there isn't any cold pasta or
prime rib in the fridge I'll opt for
a yogurt. Or toast with peanut
butter or hummus. While none
of this is very fancy, it does the
trick. That said, I still find myself
longing for some eggs and bacon.
Yet sadly, I don't want to clean up
the mess required to prepare them.
Counter intuitive
We really miss the now shuttered
Empire Cafe. A classic greasy
spoon it was ready to satisfy our
hunger anytime of the day. While
the decor and food were far from
perfect, we loved the joint. Sadly
we've not found another place
that slings hash the way we like
it. So we stay close to home and
invariably skip breakfast. I now
realize that stating your day sans
scrambled eggs is akin to a world
without sunshine. WAKE UP!

Breakfast of champions
When one stays at a hotel, one must
go downstairs for breakfast. Hence
we've engorged on all sorts of eggs,
bacon, sausage, bagels, pancakes,
and french toast. I've been spoiled
and if nothing else the decadence
has led me to this conclusion -
I must make breakfast everyday.
You see, with a proper portion in
my belly I've never felt better. So
there's no reason that can't happen
every day. Now... the question is
who's going to do the dishes?

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The mirror crack'd
Age is not kind. When I look into the
mirror I often wonder where that dew
drop I once was has gone. Suddenly
life puts it all in perspective. And for
me, that bitch slap involved soaking a
few hours in a geo thermal pool filled
with retirees. Suddenly all of my angst
over aging was gone. I was surrounded
by men and women holding in their
tummies until fully submerged. Once
aging is put into a group context, you
realize that we're all in this together.
And that getting old is not for sissies.
Death sentence
Aging is inevitable. As a boomer in
theory I'm infallible - a never aging
ingenue. However in fact I'm an old
guy with mucho attitude. Perception
is reality but I'm delusional at best.
Thus it's affirming to be surrounded
by one's peers. Suddenly all bulges,
scars, sun damage, wrinkles, and
flab don't seem all that bad. Age is
relative and from what I saw at the
pool at Chico Hot Springs - we're
all on the same path to destruction.
Why not relax and enjoy the ride?
Above bored
With time comes wisdom, yet often
we can't see the forest for the trees.
A dear friend (sorry but no names)
queried me recently. Did she need
a brow lift or not? My answer was
a strong and emphatic "NO." When
one fiddles with whatever God has
given you, nothing is ever the same
afterwards. So why would anyone
so lovely even consider trying to
improve on nature's bounty. Isn't it
better to face reality, show a little
mileage, and strut your stuff?
Check out time
I'll admit that post early "retirement"
embracing one's impending demise
only gets easier. Life prepares us for
death in so many ways. Helping my
parents transition through their final
stages made me fully aware of how
much assisting is required to move
into assisted living. Now that Frank's
folks have done the same thing I'm
scouting out adjacent apartments for
their my better half and I. Before we
know it, we'll be checking in prior to
checking out. It's part of life's cycle.
Time marches on
There's really nothing to worry about.
If one believes that ultimately souls
are recycled, chances are you'll have
another chance to figure things out.
We all move on. Where, when, and
how is up for grabs. Orchestrating
one's journey with confidence rather
than resistance is the only way to go.
The restraint required to transition
with dignity is challenging. However
I've learned from the best and hence
in theory am ready to face whatever
comes my way - without a face lift.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A case of extreme exposure

Opposites attract
Often we want to be anyplace but
where we are. For many reasons
the grass seems greener elsewhere.
However if one waits patiently for
a bit, your outlook may become a
bit brighter. I'll never understand
why we all just can't stay put. But
I do understand the need to escape
whatever one's reality is. Somehow
a change in scenery refreshes the
soul particularly if it also warms
one's bones. The question is will
it be any better any where else?

You're getting warmer...
With all the talk of global warming,
some worry winter will soon be but
a memory. I'm not a scientist yet it
seems that winter is going nowhere
soon. Two weeks ago we got over
two feet of snow on top of a foot
here in rural Montana. Now for the
past few days some areas have been
breaking records with highs in the
low sixties. Meanwhile Manhattan
was hit with a winter storm and
over a foot of snow. It seems you
can't even trust the weatherman...

Winter of our discontent
When you deal with snow daily
nothing phases you. We've lived
in Chicago, Minneapolis, and
now Montana. So trust me, we
know all about the white stuff.
However when Mother Nature
dumps a huge amount in a small
amount of time, it's impossible
not to get buried. Manhattan is
even worse given most get from
here to there on foot. Clearing the
way is challenging when there's
no place to get rid of the residue!

Much ado about nothing
Out here we just keep on driving
(four wheel drive) in a blizzard.
Most locals act like nothing is
happening and continue on their
merry way. Be it pioneer spirit or
an inability to embrace reality, it
somehow it works. Whereas on
the East Coast a flurry or two is
forecast and the city shuts down.
That might make sense given
population density but honestly,
isn't stopping the subway silly?
Is it now snowing under ground?

Southern exposure
Many will do anything to avoid
snow. Hence they escape south
to places that hold little appeal
for me. The weather is lovely,
but the sprawl reminds me of
suburbia not nirvana. I am not
ready to sacrifice all that I love
for some senior city in the sun.
If one must escape, there are
plenty of places closer to home.
Given we had a full house of
workers this week, Frank and
I drove south to Pray, Montana.

Take the plunge
Since 1900 Chico Hot Springs has
been warming folks up. This off
the grid resort features two pools
warmed naturally to one hundred
and three and ninety six degrees
year round. There's hiking, riding,
dining, and drinking also. While
not The Sanctuary on Camelback
nor the Golden Door in Escondido,
one can even get a massage and
other spa treatments out here in
the middle of no where. Who said
we weren't civilized in Montana?

The road less traveled
Hidden across the Treasure State
are treasures just waiting to be
discovered. We may be under
developed with no population.
However we rather like things
sparse. That way the few of us
who are lucky enough to live
here keep it all to ourselves.
Whether winter, spring, summer,
or fall - it's always amazing. But
please, don't tell anyone... let's
keep Montana our little secret.
Why not visit Florida instead?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I miss my Mommy...

Mommy dearest
Yesterday I watched "The Evening
Star." This lackluster sequel to one
of my favs "Terms of Endearment"
stars Shirley Maclaine as Aurora
Greenway. For reasons I may not
understand said character strikes a
chord deep within in me. Suddenly
she's not Shirley but Ethel, my Mom.
When the film was finished, I was a
sodden, sobbing mass of manhood.
For quite some time I couldn't stop
crying. Then finally realized why -
What a mother...
My maternal figure was anything but
perfect. She was snobbish, controlling,
domineering, and at times arrogant.
However she was also elegant, loving,
compassionate, and protective. Until
her last day on this earth she ran the
show. And long after her departure -
my Mother still manages to yank my
chain. Call it odd or sacrilegious but
I believe the souls of those you love
remain with you long after they have
departed. And trust me, Ethel makes
sure that her presence is known.
Constant companions
Years later, not a day goes by that I don't
think of my Mother and Father. We often
don't know what we have until we lose it.
Parents are there from the start and play
a continuing role in our development.
At times said influence is positive but
for many it's negative. Most parents are
omnipresent, but sadly others are absent.
Whoever raised you really doesn't matter.
However or whatever they did also isn't
important. You are who you are. Alive or
dead they will always be a part of you.
So isn't it time we all decided to grow up?
All because of you
While it may be good to occasionally
talk things out, I do not ascribe to the
theory of blaming others for our ills.
Ethel and Howard played a role in
making me the man I am today. Now
I'm exactly that... an adult. Therefore
whatever happens is my responsibility.
Whatever baggage I've brought along
on my life's journey I chose to carry.
And something long forgotten benefits
nobody, especially me. In truth our
parents did the best they could and so
all we can do is thank them for trying.
Gone but not forgotten
The finality of death is if nothing
else, life changing. Someone can
be a dominant force and then in
an instant disappear. Most leave a
legacy. Be it a monument, building,
or patent - something remains to
reinforce the reality that they made
a difference. Yet stone or money
really doesn't matter. Instead our
memories of love lost live on in
those we loved. Thus those most
important to us continue to guide,
influence, and occasionally chide.
Adult education
Frank is fortunate to still have both of
his parents. At ninety one and ninety six
their advice, counsel, and humor teaches
me something new everyday. While my
parents are long gone physically, they
both continue to do the same for me.
Whoever your parents were or are,
whatever they did or didn't do, and
however they positively or negatively
impacted your life doesn't really matter.
How you leverage their influence does.
So stop blaming your parents for all of
your ills. As Cher says "Snap out of it!"

Monday, January 26, 2015


Build it and they will come
Today the team starts installing the
custom bookshelves and cabinets
in my office. Once they're in, I'm
probably going to have to change
the room's moniker. With it's walls
now lined with books said space
will be transformed into a "library."
While a tad pretentious, no other
name is as appropriate. Throughout
my life books have been a portal to
inspiration. Tools that took me to a
better place. All the reason to give
them a proper and permanent home.
Hidden pursuits
I love reading and always have. As
a tot books were my escape hatch.
Not exactly your normal boy, I was
often the target of other boys. One
day I ran into the library to escape
the bullies and... practically lived
there for five years. Not only was it
a refuge from abuse, it my paradise
filled with things to see and learn.
Quickly I got a job as a "page." In
other words I put the books away,
kept things organized, and learned
the Dewey Decimal System.
Other people's interests
If one truly loves knowledge, almost
anything is interesting. Because my
job was to put other people's choices
back - I was exposed to a vast array
of subjects I would otherwise never
have considered. Almost daily I set
aside one or two tomes. And slowly
I built a rather diverse knowledge
bank. Some valuable, some vapid,
all fascinating! From then on I was
my loyal companions, trusted allies,
and divine inspiration.
Bare essentials
Over the years I've often had to carry
a rather heavy load. And oddly, most
said burden have been books. Some
have been with me from the start. As
I criss crossed the country, they came
along for the ride. After separating,
among the few things I took from the
house were my treasured tomes. Just
knowing my favorites were within
reach was comforting. And while I'll
occasionally purge, most of my new
chapters are simply added to the pile.
Hence their need for a sizable space.
La bibliotheque
Who doesn't love a library?
"C" had a fabulous PUCE
refuge in her Connecticut
manse. "T" had a paneled
palace in her apartment on
the lake in Chicago. My
children grew up watching
TV in a forties moderne
jewel. Over the years a wall
of books has always held an
important place within my
home. Why wouldn't I give
knowledge top priority?
Book 'em Danno
Whatever you do, never hide your thirst
for knowledge under some bushel. Drag
them out. Stack them. Pile then. Display
them. And most important - read them!
After all, knowledge is power. Whatever
interests you really doesn't matter. Being
interested does. Even at this late date one
still has much to learn. So occasionally
returning back to treasured tomes always
provides some sort of new insight. We
filter everything through the moment and
thus our thirst for knowledge changes. Is
it time you brushed up on the classics?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

7th Day Surprise - Squeaky Clean


Once in awhile we all have to clean up our acts.
Some prefer a quick shower or a long soak.
Others grab what my mother called a "dicky bird"
or quickly shave away their shadows.
What's most amazing is the transformation.
Somehow we always look better after we've bathed.
Not only is it refreshing,
it revives.

So, no matter how you cleanse,