May 01, 2023

Waiting For Agnes

Waiting For Agnes 

By John R. Greenwood 

a pound of ground beef she says

I’ll only be a minute

who’s she kidding

its been twenty

in dog minutes

no less 

wag more 

bark less 

she says

naw on a bone

watch the squirrels 

I’ll be right back 

she says

all you do is growl

these days

we never romp anymore

I miss you nipping 

at my ear

she says

the puppies are grown

they’re on their own

the backyard’s empty

we could dig deep holes 

and howl till 

the neighbors 

come home

she says

with all my training 

you’d think 

I would have

 learned by now

she’s right 

I think I’ll go inside

fetch her the biggest 

box of Milk-Bone’s

and a new pink collar

one with sparkles

our puppy-love 

has endured 


cat scratches

porcupine quills

and kennel cough

forty-nine years in June

human years

doggone good years

pee-on-the-rug-happy years


I love that bitch 

April 29, 2023

I've Gotta Split

I’ve Gotta Split 
By John R. Greenwood 

“I’ve gotta split” has a different connotation for me in 2023 than in the 1960s. In the 60s, it meant you had to leave. In April 2023, it means attempting something I’ve never done before.

We recently had two large maple trees in our yard taken down. Although they still had a little life left in them, they’d both become safety concerns. I called our old high school friend Tom at Tom Mullens Tree Service. Domiciled just a few miles away, Tom’s business is as local as they come. Within days the maples were down and sliced into big old rounds. The larger limbs were cut into manageable-length logs that could be cut up later.

We don’t burn firewood ourselves, but I have a friend who uses it to supplement his home heating. The pain of losing two trees was eased by knowing it was going to a good home where it “wood” be loved and appreciated.

With the help of my neighbor Jose and his son Harper, we were able to manhandle the heaviest rounds, move them from my front yard to the backyard, and line them up along the edge of my driveway. There they would await back-recuperation and warmer weather. Because the rounds were much too heavy to lift onto my pickup, I now had to figure out how to load them or reduce them to a size that made them easier to handle.

This is where my “Bucket List” comes into play. Mine is a little different than the more traditional list. Rather than one that includes traveling to foreign countries, visiting the Grand Canyon, or parachuting from an airplane, mine has things like rebuilding a carburetor, tiling a bathroom, and splitting firewood. I recently admitted to my friend and firewood aficionado, Chris Leske, that I’d never split firewood. His eyes widened, and his response instantly bumped splitting firewood from #7 to #1 on my average-man bucket list.

I soon learned that all wood is not created equal and that those rounds in my yard were actually granite slabs carved to look like maple. If you’re planning to cut your wood-splitting teeth you may as well start with the densest material known to man. Anything I attempt to split after this wedge-resilient beast will be like slicing a cheese round with a hatchet. Why not start at the top and work your way downhill.

My maiden voyage splitting wood at the age of 67.75 was both exhilarating and rewarding. I improved with each swing. My confidence and country boy street cred inched up a notch, and with each popped hunk of maple-rock, my smile widened. My back was not that impressed. 

You’ll never know if you don’t try. If you succeed, it encourages you to move on to another challenge, another mountain hill to climb. My bucket list remains fluid. I just purchased a 30-year-old chainsaw that supposedly “ran when parked.” Amazon promised me a new carb kit in the mail today. I might just cross off another bucket lister by my birthday!

Thanks for stopping by.

Now, I've gotta split. 

April 26, 2023

First Mow

First Mow
By John R. Greenwood

Lawnmower clogs of fresh cut grass are a welcome change from the wet snowblower variety. April is only on week four, but if I'd waited any longer to mow, Vincek’s Farm would have another field to hay. A wimpy winter and 24 hours of cool rain had my lawn as thick as the fur on a Samoyed’s back. Even the dandelions looked exhausted trying reach the surface. 

I’m not a lawn snob or grass-rat. I know my monetary limits when it comes to golf course quality lawn care. The moles and grubs keep me on the edge of crazy and a dirty carburetor on the mower almost resulted in the neighbors having to call 911 to report a rabid old man foaming at the mouth in his driveway.

I’ve been an active member of the “First Mow Club” since I was designated a teen. Even though I’m now deep into geriatric territory I still look forward to that first pull start. It’s different now than it was fifty years ago. Now the grass I mow is my own. The mower, the rake, the view from my front window is mine. My yard is far from Augusta National but it’s my personal labor of love—bare spots and all.

There’s been a movement in recent years to turn front yards into native flower gardens or at least let them grow uncut through May. This in an effort to provide pollination habitat for bees. I fully support and commend those who embrace this admirable practice. I’m simply not wired for it. I’ve been edging walks, raking grass, and trimming lawns for my entire life. I did it as a boy to put money in my pocket and as a young father to buy baby formula. Now it’s mostly therapeutic and the best exercise money can’t buy. To sit by and let the yard go wild in the spring would be cruel and unusual punishment for me.

I do have a confession to make. In the heat of last summer I purchased a riding mower to give me some needed relief. It was a not purchase made easily. I felt like a traitor, a sellout, and a fraud. I still do. I feel guilty when I’m barging my way around my 1/4 acre on a mower made for one or more. I could live without it and may yet. In the meantime I think it took a little worry off Mrs.G. She says she wants to keep me around awhile. So, if you drive by and see me tooling around on my rider or following behind a mower, know that I'm in my happy place--perspiring grimace and all.

April 23, 2023

A Strong Foundation

A Strong Foundation
By John R. Greenwood

The photo above may appear average and unremarkable. Still, as I knelt there this April morning, the view reminded me of my personal foundation. Growing up in a small country village surrounded by a supportive community proved to be one of the most valuable contributions to my life. Whenever I begin to dissect what true happiness is, I inevitably return to my roots. Not simply family roots but those of my youth in general.

There isn't a day when I don't refer back to a face or story from my early life. Grade school classmates, backyard adventures, scout meetings, tree climbing, hay fort building, and visions of the old swimming hole all surface. When it's quiet with no outside distractions, I can visualize the endless list of people who strengthened my foundation. The obvious are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my dear sister. Then the surnames of the childhood families that added mortar to that foundation flow like water: Shay, Dake, Atwell, Davis, Gibbons, Cornell, Baldwin, Frasier, Hodges, O'Donnell, Rumpf, Panton, Lindahl, Bootier, Levo, Orisesk, Barney, Brown, Wheatley, Allen, Claydon, Gordon, Cote, Kahl, Sherman, Hall, Sesselman, Kostka, Bowen, Cline, Schwartz, Hurd, Smero, Koptula, Homiak, Pasmik, and Jones, all just a fraction of the mountainous collection of contributors to my life. I could fill pages with the names of people who've positively influenced me. Every day I channel an event or lesson I've experienced. Even the painful or uncomfortable ones have meaning and purpose in some remote way. How lucky I've been to have lived in the time and places that I have.

I saw that when I stood up and looked at my freshly painted foundation. Those names began popping into my head, inspiring me to write them down. As I write this, the gentle rain falling outside has given me a moment to ponder each name and attach a memory. It's an activity that I practice often and one that gives me immense pleasure. I know many people spend their lives searching for happiness via material things. Although a new car, exotic vacation, or motorboat can bring you short-term joy, the list of names above could only be obtained by growing up where stone foundations can still be found today.

Thank you, the 1960s and Greenfield Center, NY.

April 19, 2023


By John R. Greenwood 

You'd think it would be easy to relax after retirement, but there's a snag—the world has gone insane. Its wake has left me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room filled with chocolate-laced grandchildren in rocking chairs. I get the same feeling I did when I was little, and my parents would have a good old-fashioned, no holds barred. All you wanted to do was bury your head under a pillow and wait for the smoke to clear. I find myself looking for a pillow a lot these days. Not one of those scrap-filled, overpriced ones the Pillow-Kook hawks, but one heavy enough to drown out the vitriol overrunning our daily lives. I worry I may never experience peace and quiet again. 

We should have done a better job for the generations filling in behind us. We label them as lazy and entitled, but we are the ones who sat back and let things slip away. We promised to clean up after ourselves and failed. We are the ones responsible for leaving the house in shambles.

I try to keep optimism at full volume, but the noise outside my 1/4 acre drowns it out. It doesn't stop me, but it slows it to a crawl. Even as I write this, I feel I'm leaning into negativity. It's spring, and the birds and greening grass are usually enough to put a little bounce in my step, but lately, all it takes are the words "BREAKING NEWS" to knock my feet out from under me. 

Writing is good exorcise, and early morning walks are good exercise. Put them together, and you have a recipe for relaxing. After using both tools today, I feel physically at ease, but I think I'll proceed with caution. 

I'm sure someone, somewhere, will have a problem with something today and feel the only way to solve it is with violence. As much as I'd like to keep a pillow handy, the vision of the Pillow-Kook makes me think I'd be better off with a weighted blanket. 

Sleep tight, America…