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"


  1. Excellent. And you introduced me to Bedlham Farm and the creative group. And if that book ever materializes from you I will be first in line!

  2. How wonderful for you that you encountered this life-changing opportunity! Just think of all the rewards it has brought you. I often think that way about when I started my blog and the connections with like-minded people it has brought me, along with uncounted opportunities to keep enlarging my world. Good for you, John!

  3. I love Jon Katz' writings. I am presently reading Saving Simon and cannot wait to get his new book. His writing is heartfelt and shows his love of almost all animals.