June 29, 2013

Duck Mirror

Duck Mirror
By John R. Greenwood

an ugly duckling
 never sees

when looking out
or looking in

yet searches daily 
behind each door

beneath the stone   

a face of facts 
the ending

an act of fate 
the tale

the untold truth 

of beauty 
beaming back

me / em

June 28, 2013

Greenfield Center Silver Dollar

Greenfield Center Silver Dollar
By John R. Greenwood

I received a message the other day from Greenfield Historical Society member, Janet Jones. Janet asked if she could use one of my blog posts in one of their upcoming newsletters. Of course I was thrilled to be asked and gave her permission to use anything she'd like. What I would like to share here is how growing up in a small town like Greenfield in the 50's and 60's can shape your outlook on life and the world around you. Growing up in house just a few yards from a country store that anchored a towns center provided a constant flow of personalities from which to draw positive, life-long influences. 
The town ladled up a wide array of role models from which to draw from. I can hear the gravel voices of war veterans and mill workers as they discussed local news events. I recall with fondness the kind neighborhood women who sent me home with a bags of Avon for my mother. I still have a silver dollar taped inside a card that Mrs Cady across the street gave me for my fifth birthday. It has remained in the bottom of a metal box for fifty-three years. 

An 1890 Silver Dollar I received in 1960

It is a prized possession and a constant reminder of the wonderful youth I enjoyed in a simple house with the dirt path out front. That silver dollar is a symbol of my past. One where playing outside was a twelve hour day, complete with scabby knees, splinter filled hands, and pine-pitched hair. Those were days when you quenched your thirst from the hot garden hose that lay twisted in the grass along the side of the house. The same days where the noon whistle signaled it was time for your friend to ask his mother if you could stay for lunch. Having a barn full of these memories has sustained me throughout my life.  I've tried not to pine about the past but to embrace what it provided me so that it might fuel my passion for the future. That is an important point. 

Mrs. Cady lived here in the 50's and 60's. 
Many times we get so wrapped up in trying to recreate the past we lose sight of the present joy beneath our feet. That's what growing up in a small country town provided me. It gave me solid ground on which to stand. It taught me to savor the tender moments. It showed me that small town support could help you endure the painful ones. I feel blessed that I grew up where and when I did. I am thankful everyday for the Greenfield in my life. 

This is just a small snippet of what I took away from growing up in a small town. Mrs. Cady left us long ago. The current residents of the home are unknown to me. I no longer live in Greenfield but I do live nearby and I enjoy driving through the village every chance I get. Here is a link to another post describing a visit to my childhood home last summer. The photo above was taken from the driveway of that home. 

June 27, 2013

So You Think You Had A Bad Day?

So You Think You Had A Bad Day? 
By I. M. Losingit

So you think you had a bad day? 

Sit down and brace yourself. I just came off a week's vacation and I was headed in on my third day back. It's summer, it's hot, and when your livelihood runs on cold beverages and ice cream, you should plan to be  busy. When half of your fleet depends on refrigeration, plan to be real busy. When you are dealing with dozens of drivers, summer vacations and injuries, plan to have thinning hair and a pounding head. I hadn't even gotten that far on this day. I parked my pickup and headed toward the office door when I happened to look down. This is what I saw! 


June 25, 2013

Face It

Face It
By John R. Greenwood

Facing things head on is a daily challenge. Whether it's an overdue bill or another wrinkle on your face, the ability to stay positive in this finger pointing world becomes harder every day. Which side of the bed did your feet touch the floor on today? 

June 24, 2013

Milkman Alley

Milkman Alley
By John R. Greenwood

The alley now called Lena Lane.
 Every Friday for over a decade my work day ended with this view--my vintage milk truck parked between Hattie’s on the left, and Mother Goldsmith’s on the right, facing Palmetto’s and the shoe repair shop across the street. The smell of fresh buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken coming from Hatties. The sound of clinking manhattans and gin and tonics coming from the crowded dining room of Mother’s. They are both firmly ingrained in my memory. Squeaky screen doors slamming in the August heat were the alley symphony heard throughout the city. This alley now closed to traffic holds a special place in my heart. I will share one particular story that is dear to me and one I love to share. 

Looking through the screen door at Hattie's today
 looks pretty much as it did 25 years ago.
On many days my boys would ride with me on my route. It would give mom a welcome rest and the boys loved riding around the city with me. On this particular day I had my oldest with me. He was probably about nine or ten at the time. He was a big help and everyone was used to seeing him with me. I would park in the alley and go in the kitchen to get the order. I would come back out hand it to my son. He would pick the order while I went to the next stop and got their order. I came out the back door of Mother Goldsmiths one day and there was a familiar face standing at the back of my truck, arms outstretched, with my son filling them with pints of chocolate milk. His name was Joe and he worked for the city. He was a jokester, a buster, an instigator, and a good friend. We had known each other from our many mornings having coffee at the counters of various diners over the years. When I asked my son what he was doing, he looked at me and proudly answered, “He says you give him all the chocolate milk he wants for free.” They were both grinning from ear to ear. Joe with his arms full of chocolate milk. My son feeling like he just earned a raise for taking care of business all by himself. In the years long after I had gotten out of the milk business, Joe and I would occasionally cross paths. We would always reminisce about that day in the alley. It would never fail to have us smiling and sharing tales about the good old days. 

The chocolate milk truck as it looks today

I spent a recent Saturday walking the streets and alleys of Saratoga. It was early morning, milkman hours, and it brought back dozens of similar type memories. It was hard work and I loved the experience. I can’t say I miss the seven day work weeks or the 45 stops I would do on an August Friday. I do miss the friendships and the taste of life being a old fashioned milkman provided. 

June 23, 2013

The Last Day

The Last Day
By John R. Greenwood

It's the last day of my vacation. I go back to work bright and early tomorrow morning-5am to be exact. Mondays are hectic. The earlier you start your day the better. 

Its Sunday morning and I finally got out to my corner yard writing desk. It's a six foot picnic table angled toward the intersection on the corner where I live. It's early enough to still be relatively quiet. You can hear the hum of cars on distant Route #9 fade off as they head south toward Saratoga or north to Glens Falls. A crow caws a mouthy refrain in the maple above my head. An occasional clink and clank of another early riser taking out the trash echoes through the wooded backyards. It's a collection of quiet noises that seem to calm me Iike the coo of a newborn baby. 

For the moment life is good at my outdoor desk. It was a long week. I accomplished a lot. I finished some long overdue projects. I tackled a few unplanned ones. It would be nice to have another week off, or "maybe not," my back whispers. 
In this life of seven miles over the speed limit its easy to lose sight of why we're here and what we should be doing. There is no rule book per say. We all choose our own path. What I have discovered in the last few years is that there is good and bad in every day. Moments of anger, regret, thankfulness, and down right joy. It's what you see and how you see it that matters. Passing judgement comes back at you. Sometimes the moccasins of others hurt our feet. There are many days when living in a glass house, in a hail storm, can be frightening. The best path I've found is to remain open to whatever is around the next corner. There is no perfect answer. If you vow to never utter another curse word, rest assured a hammer blow to the thumb is minutes away. Just as you swear off sweets in pursuit of those six-pack abs, the aroma of fresh baked coffee cake will come seeping out of Mrs. G's kitchen. 

Remain calm and resilient, flexible and true to your core beliefs. Know that time spent mowing the lawn will be rewarded by an evening view through the screen door- complete with the scent of fresh cut fescue soaking in an evening dew. 

Yes, it's back to work tomorrow, but then again I have to buy a new pad and pencil, they don't grow on trees you know. 

Congress Park
Saratoga Springs, New York

June 22, 2013

Essence Of Saratoga

Essence Of Saratoga 
By John R. Greenwood

The song is Pretty World By Sam Baker

After spending a weeks vacation working around the house I awoke at 5am with a creative thirst that needed quenching. I grabbed my camera and car keys and headed down to Broadway in Saratoga Springs, NY. There is never a lack of something to photograph in Saratoga. It was a quiet Saturday morning and the streets were empty. I love the hours of 5-7am. There is something about the combination of light, sound, and smell that make early morning different than any other time of day. I was looking for color and life without people this morning. That seemed to be the theme. Life via color and composition. Views from within the heart and eyes. Love of life from your surroundings is essential for true happiness. It's how we digest our life that provides true nourishment. If you slice through it without slowing to savor the aroma of fresh dirt or sizzling bacon you are doomed to a life of yesterdays. Life is now regardless of your age. Children don't think, they just play in the moment. If we over think our daily bread we miss out on life's basic principles. This morning was zero thinking. It was all about opening my arms and eyes wide and embracing anything that passed through the viewfinder. I hope you enjoy this slideshow of photographs as much as I enjoyed taking them. They were a gift I accepted with gratitude. Thank you Saratoga, you look great! 

June 21, 2013

Doing The Write Thing

Doing The Write Thing
By John R. Greenwood

I took a week off work to work. It takes me a week to reclaim my garage, cellar, and tool shed from the accumulation of all the pieces, parts, and tools I use working on my assorted winter projects. I'm sure there are others like me who are so anxious to finish the job they slack off when it comes to the cleanup. That has been a problem of mine since I was a kid. I remember the look on my father's face when he would find his cherished hand tools rusting in the woods at the base of one of my many tree forts. The veins in his forehead would pop out a quarter inch. It worked out okay though because years later when my boys wanted to use my tools to build forts I would let them use the rusty stuff I ruined as a kid. Life has a way of working itself out. 

So, here it is day four of a  summer vacation and this is my first post. The last thing I posted was on our 39th wedding anniversary. I guess that's the point I want to make. As a husband, father, employee, writer, homeowner, citizen, and creative artist I have many rules and responsibilities. I spent days one and two weeding out and reorganizing my garage and cellar. Both were necessary tasks and each took a full day to complete. On day three the sun finally made a commitment to stick around, so a day of yard work was in order. 

By day four my writing itch need scratching. Usually a walk around the block (1.5 miles) is enough to ignite a story. This time was a little different. My responsible, homeowner, husband-personality showed up unexpectedly. It poked me in the shoulder, looked me square in the eye, and with the sternness of a serious parent listed a dozen things that I have been putting off for months. 

This has been my dilemma forever. Where do  you separate need from want? When does the need to grab a pad and pen  supersede the responsibility of maintaining your home, job, or marriage? It is a constant balancing act for me. A tightrope walk between being a devoted husband, loyal employee, responsible adult, and creative artist, who enjoys eating and having a dry roof over his head. 

When it all boils down I find that this is not such a horrible problem to have. Number one, I have a beautiful wife to answer to. She provides a warm and loving home for me to enjoy. It comes with clean clothes, rotating baked goods, fresh flowers a plenty, and a life-long vow to love me for better or worse. I own a simple home located in the epicenter of all things important. It's less than a mile to a fresh gallon of milk and dozen eggs. Our jobs are both so close they can't be called a commute. I am ten minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip of Shopping. Thin plastic bags full of over priced groceries, watch batteries, and cheap lawn chairs are all accessible within tens minutes and a quart of gas. No it's not an island getaway but it screams American Dream and I have zero reason to complain. 

The week began with dreams of early morning writing jags at the picnic table in the side yard, with the birds singing and providing an inspiring backdrop. Dreams and visions don't always align perfectly. You have to be resilient and quick on your feet. When duty calls you have to be prepared to change course. Sometimes it requires flexing the responsible adult. 

In the end I got back to my roots. Back to that primal need to be a home owner and create a comfortable oasis of my own.  I owed it to my surroundings to give back all the good things it had given me all winter. It gave me warmth and refuge from the craziness of the world around me. I can now navigate my garage without fear of a visit from OSHA. My cellar is organized and brimming with pride not boxes and my yard is back to respectable status. Two newly installed replacement windows grace the front of the house and I still have a weekend left to do what I really want to do. Paint the dining room????

June 15, 2013

To My Wife:

To my wife:

I am sending you a simple anniversary message from my heart to yours. It is an open message meant to spread a little love from our hearts to the hearts of others.I ask anyone reading this to refrain from commenting. Instead I ask that you take a moment to reflect on someone dear to you. It may be a spouse, parent or a sibling. Maybe its that new baby on the way or the toddler in your lap. Maybe you have a loved one serving their country in a far off land or living in another state too distant for you to stop by and say hello. Reflect for a moment on what that loved one means to you and how different your life might be if they hadn't turned up on your doorstep. We don't do enough of that these days. We take everything for granted. We expect instant potatoes and gourmet meals in thirty minutes or less. I thought on this, our 39th day as one, it would be nice to write a piece about love and appreciation. In this world of 'me', we expect more and give less. The biggest gift I ever received came from my wife. She has been giving me that gift in small daily doses for 39 years. It is the gift of unselfishness. I am a slow learner and a stubborn student. It has taken me years to realize how unselfish a mother and wife must be. They sacrifice holiday’s and cold dinners to others. They put themselves at the back of the line regardless of how long that line is. I now understand how fortunate I have been. 

We are  surrounded by these selfless loved ones who want only the best for us. They want us to be safe on the way home. They want our bellies full and our faces smiling. These are the loved ones who don’t think about it, they simply do it. It comes natural to them. 

To my wife I love you. I thank you for not skimping on anything you do for me. To everyone reading this, you have a person in your life who is long overdue for a hug, a kind word, or maybe a hand written letter. Don’t wait another minute. Grab a pen, or your car keys, the phone or just yell across the street. The person who means so much to you deserves it. Spread the love. After all there's not a day that goes by that someone isn't celebrating an anniversary somewhere.  

Happy Anniversary! 


June 11, 2013

Dear Clem,

An open tribute letter to a sign painter named ‘Clem.’

Photo courtesy of Valerie Adinolfi  Berekely, California 
Christmas Day 1989, Whitney Place, Saratoga Springs 

Dear Clem (Walter Clements),

My name is John Greenwood. Back in the 1980’s I owned and operated a milk delivery business named Price’s Dairy. During those years you painted that name on the sides of some of my milk trucks. I was always fascinated by your profession and by your quiet talent. I was even more curious about your personal story. Over my years in business I would run into you at the counter of a corner diner having breakfast or maybe on the stool of a Caroline St. bar. You were always friendly to me. You seemed to notice I was a young man trying to preserve a withering profession. Maybe because you were doing the same as an aging sign painter. You could see your profession was an endangered species, just like mine. 

There was something about your persona that lead me to believe you may have wanted more out of life and a paint brush. You took a great deal of pride in your work. That fact revealed itself as I researched your career looking for signs of your work and your life. I found many hidden treasures during my search. I reunited with friends long forgotten. I made new friends with people in your past. People I’d never met. Nice people who even while living on the other side of the country embraced and understood my search. I heard of your quiet kindness, and your dry and sometimes playful wit. I discovered 40 year old ‘Clem Signs’ right on Broadway that I had been passing by for decades. I truly enjoyed my search so far and felt the need to publicly declare my admiration for you and your work. 

As I dug deeper and found more I was even more convinced that your desire to paint had much deeper roots. I felt the pulse of a frustrated artist yearning for a more varied palette and audience. The need to survive and quench your thirst always changing the path you were forced to travel. I too have been searching for a venue to share my creativity. It came later in life and I believe with all my heart that my search for your story played a huge role in me finding my own story. 

So Mr. Walter Clements I want to say thank you to you and the loved ones you left behind. My search for a sign from Clem continues on. I am confident there are more hidden treasures to be uncovered and shared. For those of you following this story I know that if you have one ounce of wonder in your body you will have an inkling of what I am trying to accomplish with this seemingly fanatical journey. It’s not so much the treasure as it is the digging. 

Yours truly, 

To follow the entire Searching For A Sign From Clem collection simply search Clem Signs at the top of the blog page. There is a palette full of posts related to this search. 

If you find a sign from Clem in your travels around the Saratoga and Glens Falls area please contact me at jgreenwood@rainingiguanas.com. I will be there in the stroke of a brush. 

June 10, 2013

Tiger's Comeback #2

Tiger's Comeback Part #2
By John R. Greenwood

June 10, 2013 

I was paged to the front desk at work this afternoon. The call said,"There is a man here who says he has something that will make your day." 

When your day starts at 5am, it's a Monday in the Hauling Department, and the only thing good that happened since you got there was knowing Friday was now eight hours closer, you live to hear a sentence like that. 

"I'll be right there!", I said

It was an old friend and he was grinning from ear to ear. He looked like a kid who just got a new bike for his birthday. It was one of those 'Yee Haw' looks that brings a smile to anyone watching, even if they don't know what's going on. 

He kept waving to me, "Come on, come on, I have something to show you!" 

We stepped outside to his parked minivan and he pulled out his keys. He popped open the hatch in the back. There as big as life and filling the van to the brim was a tiger laying on his side. It was the most beautiful tiger you've ever seen. It was a sight to behold, not just because of it's looks, but because of the story that came with the tiger, The Esso Tiger from the 70's. 

You will have to read the story which I wrote almost four years to the day to fully understand today's excitement. This was a story that took decades (plus 4yrs) to come full circle. It's the simple story of an Esso Tiger, a teenage prank taken to extremes, a couple of grey haired kids smiling from ear to ear over a fiberglass memory brought back to life. A life that for at least two men on a wet and rainy problem filled day turned happy and joyful. It is one of those cherished stories that you tell your grandkids so many times there's a good chance it will cling to a few generations beyond. 

After handshakes and photographs we repacked Esso Tiger in the back of his new owner's minivan. He was headed home where he belonged and where he would start his new job as the ultimate yard ornament, whimsically entertaining anyone who would listen to his story. The roundabout story of a tiger who once was lost, and now was found. 

Now here is the rest of the story:

Tiger's Comeback Part#1 
By John R. Greenwood

June 24, 2009

This is a true story. The names have been withheld to protect the participants. The following story is not about Tiger Woods, nor is it about Tony the Tiger. It is not about an endangered species, circus animal or, old family cat. It is about an Esso Tiger. This is the story of an Esso Tiger that disappeared from the roof of a long forgotten gas station in Saratoga Springs one moonlit summer night in the early 70’s. The story is about the Esso Tiger’s journey from that rooftop to a backyard on Northern Pines Rd. where it stood guard for 30 years.

Even with a missing tail and faded stripes, Esso Tiger never shied from his role. He protected and entertained two active boys from childhood to adulthood. Sadly, Esso Tiger’s job diminished when the boys grew up and moved away. Work was hard to find and his life became boring and dismal as he filled a corner in the tool shed. There he was propped uncomfortably on his broken tail and with his back against the wall. The Esso Tiger never lost hope that life would improve and a fresh opportunity would someday march his way.

Well, one recent summer day, as his caretaker for 30 years, I could sense the sadness in the Eye of the Tiger. He was calling for my attention. My life was at a crossroads and so it was for Esso Tiger. “Time to move on.” he seemed to whisper. And so, it was to be.

I dug the faded sentry from his cobwebbed crypt and placed him in the yard, with a sign that seemed quite sad, “FOR SALE”. I had placed Esso Tiger out there a few times before. In times of monetary greed and the EBay fueled collectable explosion, I thought Esso Tiger could be worth as much as one-thousand dollars or more. Now in hard economic times, light wallets, and $3 gas, Esso Tiger’s going price was set at fifty bucks. I was lovingly encouraged to take twenty-five if offered.
All alone, Esso Tiger sat out there through days one and two of his caretaker’s vacation. Depression and boredom were enemies creeping close and breathing heavy on his faded neck.

Then like a beacon, like an angel from above, an answer came through the gate. Not heavens gate, the gate in the arbor leading to my backyard. The angel was familiar yet not immediately recognizable. Could it be? Is it possible? Why, it sure was, it was the one responsible for sending Esso Tiger on his endless journey so long, long ago. The prankster extraordinaire with the devilish smile, and mischievous spirit, spotted Esso Tiger in the yard as he was passing by. Just as a light switched on for me when the master of mischief passed through the arbor gate, so it did for him as he drove by and saw the silent sentinel for sale in the yard. That familiar face, that memory, the laughs, the racing pulse, it all came back in a four-second-quarter-mile flash. The circle was complete. People reunited, stories retold, three ex-large personalities back on the same thirty-year-old track.

Joy comes in many forms; a new baby, a wedding vow, a winning $20 scratch-off, but this was a different joy. This was the pure joy of past meeting present and memory looking forward. Two grown men, their grown sons, a faded old tiger with a broken tail, renewed spirit and I swear, a small twinkle in his eye, refreshed and reloaded with a new story to tell.

As we lovingly placed Esso Tiger in his new caretaker’s van, the FOR SALE removed and tossed aside, a wave of happiness overcame me. This was the best start to a summer I could remember in a long, long time…

* This is a true story to the extent of this man's memory. I handed over the keys to Esso Tiger back in 2009. It was the right thing to do. His new owner had him repaired and repainted. He gave him the love and attention he so richly deserved. As this story came full circle for the second time I couldn't help but reflect back through the years and years that fiberglass animal sat patiently perched in my backyard amongst the maples. He never took but always gave. This story would never have come about had one man not passed by my yard one random day four summers ago. It is a story with a happy ending as all stories should have. It gives me joy to tell it. I hope it brought a bright spot to your day.  

June 09, 2013

Spring Endings

Spring Endings
By John R Greenwood

The days abruptly end 
So anxious we were 
to see them come 
And yet
The clock an enemy of the grey 
Ticks away another spring 

So welcome the bird songs were 
The tiny buds impatient and fresh 
like little boys to little girls
scents of green drift
Out through forest walls 
whose curtains have yet to close

June 07, 2013

A Facebook Happy Birthday

A Facebook Happy Birthday
By John R. Greenwood

I wanted to thank all the people who took a minute to stop by and wish me a Facebook Happy Birthday. It made me stop and think about what birthdays were like before Facebook. Everyone likes to kid about how horrible Facebook is and how dangerous and trivial it can be. Yes, many times that's true, but not when it's used and enjoyed the way it was on my page today. I find it hard to pick on something that brings friends and relatives to my door on a daily basis. Facebook and the internet in general have changed my life over the last few years. I began this blog in 2008 and just broke over sixty thousands views last week. To me that's a great accomplishment because I did it without obscene language, outrageous video, or raging commentary. People came here to sit on the porch and see the view up the street. They stopped by out of courtesy and curiosity. I have grown a small following of regulars and hope to add more as time goes by. There are no magic beans being sold here, only truth and no consequences. Photographs of rusty trucks, fresh flowers, and cellar treasures are the basis for life here. I have enjoyed a variegated life of good times and hard times, highs and not so highs. I love meeting people of all dimensions and persuasions and Facebook, Google, Blogger, and a red wireless mouse help make that happen 24/7. As I look out over the last few years I don't know what else would have consumed my evening hours had it not been for my keyboard and FB. I would probably still be sitting on the couch but my head would be full of television commercials and staged reality shows. I am grateful for the ability to travel the world with the click of a mouse and the wink of an eye. I embrace the technology that nursed me and a blog called Raining Iguanas back to life. I hope to see you on my birthday next year. Bring a friend, maybe one you've never even met, face to Facebook. Thanks friends. 

June 06, 2013

Strong Backs And Thick Calluses

Strong Backs And Thick Calluses
By John R. Greenwood

Forty years ago two young brothers Bill and Charlie Dake offered to assist me in attending college. I was young, in love, and had just dropped out of the local community college. I grew up around the Dake family and Stewart's Ice Cream so I went to Bill and Charlie and asked for a full time job. I was 18. They said they would help me but they both encouraged me to continue my education first. They knew how important it was. I declined the offer. I wanted to work with my hands. 

I will never know the answer to the question, "What if I had listened to them and gotten a degree instead of thick calluses?" I do know that my life working with my hands has been a rewarding challenge. I have spent my life in the middle of men, who just like me forty years ago, made the decision to use their bodies as well as their minds to put food on the table. These are intelligent and resourceful men who love being outside with backs soaked in perspiration and sunshine. They, like me, could have continued down the path of higher education but for reasons of their own chose to push handcarts instead of pens. Many of them do have degrees, yet they feel more at ease behind the wheel of an eighteen wheeler than they do behind a computer screen. I am grateful for that and for them. 


My livelihood and success depends on the hard work of others. Several years ago my long days on the road resulted in an opportunity to trade in my dairy hook for a desk. A desk piled high with its own challenges and frustrations. It too is hard work. It's reward is softer hands and an extra twenty pounds. The young ones look at me and my furrowed forehead as I deal with a driver with a broken truck and a full load. They say to me," I wouldn't want your job." I look at them now and think the same of them. When the mercury dips into the teens, the wind is howling at two in the morning, and the snow is coming sideways, I think to myself, "I wouldn't want your job." 

 It all boils down to the choices we make. You must deal with the result. I have never been regretful for my decision to carve a living with my hands and back. It made me strong in more ways than one. It taught me to appreciate things more. I have more respect for those things because because I know how they got there and what it took. 

"Joe O"
Everything we own has calluses and a sore back attached to  them somewhere along the line. There is no magic involved. Whether its a package of new t-shirts or a bag of potato chips it has calluses somewhere in its history. Don't take anything for granted, especially when you know what came at the beginning. Everything good in our lives cost someone more than what was on the price tag. 

My back is worn and my calluses have been reduced to weekend rake-blisters but my memory and my gratitude belong to the working man whose alarm rings before the rooster's. 

"In Memory of Tim"

June 05, 2013

Sun Stroke

Sun Stroke
By John R. Greenwood

a magic stretch of fence lays a morning gift 

sprawled across my backyard floor

spreading simple lines that volunteer

 to pull away negative thoughts of any kind  

and swallow them whole

leaving behind a freshness atop the dirt 

where anxious sprouts poke their tender heads 

curiously to the surface to see what's going on  

June 04, 2013

What is this?

What is this?

What am I?
I met Ed Gulley at BEJOSH Farm in White Creek for the first time today. I was riding with the driver who picks up Ed's milk. You can see by the photo of the milk house (below), that Ed's farm has a tinge of eccentricity to it. Ed is a friendly man and it only took a few minutes for us to strike up a conversation about his interest in antiques and old collectables. After we'd been talking for awhile Ed mentioned he had an unusual item he couldn't identify. He brought it out to show me. I asked if I could take a photograph of it. I told him I had a blog and that I would ask my readers for help. He said it wasn't all that old and you could tell by the way it was made that he was right. I was thinking maybe fifties or sixties. He said he had never seen anything like it. I have been thinking about it all day. My guess, and it is just a guess, is that it is for hanging multiple items. I almost think it might be a device to hang candles on for dipping. That is a pure guess. I am anxious to see if I'm even close. 

If you can identify Ed's mystery item you can comment here or send me an email at jgreenwood@rainingiguanas.com. I am counting on your help. 

Edward and Carol Gulley

Neuman Chimney Cleaner
Well, that didn't take long at all. I shared this post on a a Facebook Group Page called Greenfield Remembered last night and by this morning I had my answer. I want to thank Greenfield Remembered members Rachel Clothier and Sandy Arnold for their prompt and accurate research. Here is a photo of the mystery item and the packaging it was sold in. It is called a Neuman Chimney Cleaner. You drop it down into your chimney from above. When you pull up on it, it expands to the dimensions of the square chimney and the metal tines spread out and scrape off the built up creosote along the sides of the chimney. Ingenious, isn't it? Well that was fun and educational. Raining Iguanas was meant to be inspirational but maybe we have educational capabilities after all?

June 02, 2013

'Raining Iguanas' What's in a name?

'Raining Iguanas' What's in a name? 
By John R. Greenwood

Friday night at the reading of the Hubbard Hall Writers I realized that a more detailed explanation of the name Raining Iguanas was in order. I have a short description in the header of my page and when I first started the blog I did write a simple poem that summarized it a bit, but I think everyone who stops by here deserves a little more story. 

Raining Iguanas signifies searching for the life within a life. It represents the desire to saturate yourself with the all the goodness in the world so when the hardships and dark places show up at your doorstep you have the courage and strength to handle them. It envelopes the premise of stopping to smell the roses and sip the coffee as we forge our way through life. Life should not be about pointing blaming fingers and spewing accusatory barbs at anyone who doesn't agree with us. Life deserves better. You deserve better. And every person that you interact with expects better things from you. 

 We complain about the ills of the world so freely we begin to absorb it into our skin. The media discharges piles of garbage so high we can't see over it and it stinks so bad we won't go anywhere near it- so we curl up in our shells. We peek out every once in awhile hoping some magic wizard has made everything better. We expect to see gas below three bucks, a basket full of groceries we can afford to pay cash for, and pothole free roads that never have more than an inch of snow on them.

It's not going to happen. 
Get over it. 

Get back in the game. Push back when you need to but don't step over others to get to the finish line. Turn around and help them up. Shake hands, pat each other on the back, and head off in your chosen direction- smiling and wishing each other well.

What do you have to lose?

It's more about what we have to gain. Raining Iguanas was initiated by the need to express these words and anything that helps people understand each other. It's name should signify kindness and sharing, support and caring. I want it to be an oasis in a world that seems hellbent on hurting anyone who they think deserves it. I want this site to slow you down long enough for the rest of you to catch up.

 So pick your head up, open your heart and your eyes. Take the time to see the beauty in a teenager with a brand new drivers license. Revel in the vision of a tired mother buckling in a squirmy toddler. Savor the tastes and smells of a mid June Farmer's Market. Sing your throat sore when your favorite song shows up unexpectedly on a cranked up car radio. Tilt your ear to the sound of fat old bullfrog, neck deep on a muddy shore. 

That is the real world. Along with the ugly is the joy. We simply need to grab the right pair of glasses and sip from the half full glass. This is what the name Raining Iguanas stands for. My wish is that you will come back here for more. If you choose not to, I will understand. But please do me a favor. Leave the door open and the light on.

Raining Iguanas
John R. Greenwood

The photographs included with this piece were taken within one hundred yards of my home. I took them in between writing the paragraphs of this piece which I wrote while sitting at this picnic table in my side yard. It's a new parking spot. I moved it from the back yard yesterday. I feel quite comfortable here. It has a fresh perspective. You need a change of view every once in awhile. Change is good.