June 17, 2017

Father's Day Happy

Father’s Day Happy
By John R. Greenwood

I think we have Father’s Day backwards. Fathers don’t need to be acknowledged on Father’s Day, they should be thanking their children for giving them the joy and fulfillment every man hopes for when raising a family. I was blessed twice and those two sons compounded that blessing by adding five grandsons to my life. Who should be thanking who? My sons are great fathers. They give their families their all. That is my reward for Father’s Day. Seeing the time and nourishment they both shower their sons with is about the most gratifying thing a man can hope for. I long for the days when I would take my sons with me on my milk route. I would let them put the milk on the shelves and bring the milk crates back to the truck. Their pay check came in the form of a handful of quarters for the Pac Man video games in the backrooms of the Mom and Pop grocery stores we stopped at. I miss the days when you could bribe them with a new Matchbox or a Happy Meal. I especially loved the days when I would give my wife a break by taking them to the park where they could ride their pedal tractors or play on the jungle-gym. They’ve both instituted their own father-son rituals and it swells my heart to see it. I’m proud of the men and the father’s they’ve become. With each generation fathers become more and more involved with their children. My sons work as hard as my father and I did as a provider, and that might be the one thing that gives me the most pride. Both of them are blue-collar strong. They both possess an admirable work ethic as did the generations that preceded them. I have no doubt they will pass that trait on to their sons as well. I miss my father and grandfathers. On this Father’s Day I will take some time to reflect on all the “little things” they did that I didn’t realize the importance of at the time; like showing up for work on time and respecting my elders, teaching me to say please and thank you. They taught me how to plane a board, paint a garage, and tighten the chain on my bike. Most importantly, my father and grandfather’s taught me the difference between right and wrong. They instilled in me that doing the right thing was the best thing, and that you can’t put a price tag on integrity. My sons passed that test with flying colors and knowing that is about the best Father’s Day gift you could receive. 

So Brendan and Kevin, I want to wish YOU a Happy Father’s Day. 

Being a father makes me, “Father’s Day Happy.”   



May 21, 2017

Day's Light

Day's Light
By John R. Greenwood

It came slowly from around the corner of the milk-house. The first light of day crept quietly, trying not to disturb the slumber of the barnyard. The light of the milk-house window and day's first light met halfway between tank and tanker. My watch read 4:30am. It was a peaceful start to a Sunday morning. Two kittens were wrestling in the hay like kids on a sleep-over. The cows were beginning to stir in anticipation of their morning milking. The air had a mid-May freshness to it. I paused to soak it in from top to bottom. I was covering an early shift for one of my guys and turning lemons in to lemonade. The gentleness of the morning turned a short night's sleep into a gift. Society is losing the ability to savor these gifts with no price tags. I have tried to take up the slack by embracing the smallest of them. After six decades of watching people chase their tails I've learned that happiness doesn't come with any identifying criteria, it comes in whatever form you choose. If your list of criteria is long you may find yourself wallowing through lots of muck and mire. But, if you can find joy in a beam of light from a milk-house window, you may find you've had a better ride than most. That is where I'm at today. I've found life is better lived when you boil it down to the basics. Light and (lack of) sound are two that stood out this morning at work(?). 

If all goes as planned, a Sunday afternoon nap later, will make me feel like a king. 

Live life in any lane. 

Pick one.

Raining Iguanas

May 04, 2017


By John R. Greenwood

Jon Katz discussing his latest book "Talking to Animals"  
I went to pay my respects last night, not for someone’s passing, but for someone’s rebirth. Not their rebirth, but for what they did to revive my life. My wife joined me for a trip to Battenkill Books in Cambridge where Jon Katz was launching his latest book, “Talking to Animals.” I wanted to be there out of respect for the things Jon did for me at a critical moment in my life. What Jon did was hand me a key to a world I’d yet to experience. I was deep into my fifties when Jon accepted my application and invited me to be a member of the original Hubbard Hall Writer’s Group. That small group became an immeasurable inspiration and support system that continues some five years later. You can’t write a check or a Thank You card big enough for what Jon’s encouragement and support has done for me personally. 

Bedlam Farm has become a rally cry for me. The words alone lift my spirit and ignite creativity in me. Jon and Maria opened their home and their lives so that they might expand the lives and dreams of others. I never took their kindness for granted. It was the perfect gift for me at the perfect time. They proved to me that aging shouldn't mean closing doors—on the contrary. It should invite the opening, knocking on, and kicking down of doors. 

My 50’s were invigorating for me, due in large part to the people I chose to hang out with. I would include a list but it would take up pages and pages. It would be easier to simply say, "If you’re reading this right now, there’s a very good chance you belong on my Thank You list." 

With every book launch of Jon’s, my dream of someday launching my own is reenergized. But, even if that day never materializes, I have enjoyed the fruit of having put words to paper. My life has mushroomed to include so many kind and generous people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet if Jon had not accepted that application to the Hubbard Hall Writer’s Group. It was a portal that continues to this day. 

I will end this piece with a formal nod of gratitude for Jon and the people who funneled through him to me. I learned a most valuable lesson from you all. “Follow your Bliss,” whether it comes via pen, paint, photographs, sculpture, or hammer and nails. Embrace it and run with it. It could also come from your pets, Mother Nature, or chasing your grandchildren around the yard. Don’t stop following that, “Bliss.” Jon once shared Joseph Campbell’s mantra in the book cover at one of his book launches I attended. For once in my life I listened to someone’s advice.

As I sit here writing this, I’m raising my glass of milk (for you Ed Gulley) to the air in a toast to all you other, “Bliss” followers. 

Thanks for the ride! 

Respectfully yours,

Raining Iguanas

John R. Greenwood

Below I've included a few photographs from years of book launches and get togethers. 

Northshire Bookstore Manchester VT.
October 2011

Red and Jon arriving for one of our writing meetings
June 2012

   Battenkill Books
August 2013 

Bedlam Farm
April 2013

  Chatham Library
March 2013

Bedlam Farm Open House
September 2013 

Our Hubbard Hall Writer's Group Presentation Day
Freight Theater
May 2013

"Second Chance Dog" Launch
Battenkill Books  

November 2013

Mary Kellogg reads at the Bedlam Farm Open House
September 2013 

The best place to buy "Talking to Animals"