August 30, 2012

Our Old House - An Afternoon Visit

"Our Old House"
Our Old House - An Afternoon Visit 
By John R. Greenwood

I was nine years old when we moved from the house in the picture above. I still live and work within a few miles and I like to pass by when I can. I was doing one of my, reminiscing about the good old days drive-by’s recently and decided to stop in to see how the Blodgett’s were doing. Charlie and Beverly Blodgett have lived here since buying the house from my parents in 1964. It’s a good feeling to know such nice people live in the home you grew up in. Charlie came to the back door when I knocked and without hesitation invited me in for a visit. Charlie and Beverly are deep into their retirement but both appeared in good health and good spirits. The Blodgett’s have always been quiet content folks and live simply, within their means. In many ways the home remained as it was when I was a child. There were no major remodels or expensive upgrades. The home was welcome and familiar. It was a wonderful gift to be able to absorb the sights and sounds of my past as we sat and caught each other up on what had transpired over the last several decades. We spoke about my children and grandchildren, my job and the changes in the neighborhood. I thanked Charlie for calling recently when he noticed an article of mine in The Conservationist Magazine. I told them about my love of writing and some projects on the horizon. Their lab-mix Marisa was a pleasant host as well and invited me to join her and Charlie for their afternoon walk out back. Since out back was the center of my universe for the first nine years of my life this invitation was as welcome as a trip to Disney. As we walked through the living room and out through the attached back shed my gray topped head was swiveling like a bobble-head toy trying to soak in the remnants of my youth. 
Marisa the Lab and my old backyard
The second floor window on the far right was my first window to the world. I loved the view of the back yard from that vantage point. The pines where my tree climbing skills were honed lay a couple hundred yards away. A joyful memory for sure. The grass on this property was always plush and full like an expensive grade of carpeting; old farmland deep below I'm sure the reason. Charlie's vegetable garden is in the same spot where ours was. There as been a vegetable garden on that same spot for at least 58 years, probably many more than that. 

The pine grove wonderland where I played as a boy. 
The field where we once rode minibikes and drove beat up old field cars was now a forest of pine, maple, and poplar trees. On one hand it was unrecognizable, on the other the vision as clear as yesterday. 

As we approached the back of the lot I noticed an old cement block fireplace. In front of it was a cement pad. In the cement was the date 1958. I was overcome by a vision. I was a three year old toddler standing there watching my father and his friend and neighbor John Atwell constructing this fireplace. I could smell freshly mixed mortar. I could feel the warmth of a sunny August day. It may even have been this very day 54 years ago. I would like to think that anyway. 

I can't thank my hosts the Blodgett's and Marisa the Lab enough for their hospitality. This simple little visit brought mom and dad back for an afternoon visit too. It was a good day. 

Charlie and Marisa the Lab

August 27, 2012

A Quiet Little Bedlam

A Quiet Little Bedlam
By John R. Greenwood

This past Sunday as August began to fade and September was fueling its tank, I headed off to Bedlam Farm for a meeting of our Hubbard Hall Writing Group. We were the pampered lunch guests of Jon Katz and Maria Wulf. Jon is our trail guide and mentor. Maria, along with being a gracious host is support and inspiration galore. It was a beautiful afternoon and Bedlam Farm was the center piece. The property envelopes you in a magical country trance. I arrived a tad early (on purpose) so that I might sneak a photograph or two. I backed my pickup truck off the edge of the driveway so the back was facing the empty field where the old sheep spent their last precious summer. I did this on purpose. There is one joy in a country boys life that is a bit hard to replicate. The simple joy of sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck, feet swinging, with the sun shining, and the view of a tree-lined field in the distance. I had it all planned out and my plan came together perfectly. I had my little Canon S100 and a fully charged battery. For some reason at this moment, it seemed more important to simply sit there and close my eyes. I breathed in deep and opened my ears to the sounds surrounding me. The grasshoppers and crickets were singing away. The sound of a passing car as it grumbled up the dirt road below was a nostalgic symphony. The soft and easy rustle of the dry poplar leaves waving goodbye to summers end slowed my pulse and eased my worries. The sound of children playing on a backyard swing in the valley far below brought back wave upon wave of youthful reflection of my own. It takes just seconds on a day like this to be transported back decades. We hadn't even begun our meeting yet and my mind was a schools-out-for-summer-free-for-all of excitement. I may sound like I'm padding the bill here a little bit but for anyone who longs for the sights, sounds, and smells of a simpler time I think you will agree with me. There is something about that country magic that keeps you yearning for a repeat performance. Today deserved a standing ovation. As the others arrived Jon came to to top of the drive. He spotted my truck and suddenly realized I had been there awhile and shouted down, "Come on up, you didn't need to wait down there!" I opened my eyes slowly back to the present moment and whispered to myself, "Yes, yes I did." 

August 26, 2012

Beauty Or The Beast?

Beauty or the Beast? 
You can get caught up in the ugliness of the world if you allow yourself to. It's a choice. I choose not to. There has never been a time when life was entirely bouquets and butterflies. For example: it's hard to embrace a dredging barge. Even the word dredge is dreadful but the process is here and its here to stay. The best thing we can do now is look beyond our grandchildren and hope that one day their grandchildren can enjoy the beautiful Hudson completely. This post is not a debate on dredging. It's about how we look at things around us. Do we really need to change the world? Maybe we should start by changing ourselves. Look beyond the mirror. Look down the road, around the corner, up the rise, and over the mountain. Sometimes it's best to take a deep breath and quit bitchin'. We have hot water, three-way bulbs, 90 second cheeseburgers, and sugarfree gum. When was the last time you had to go outside in the dark to use the restroom? Are you hungry or thirsty right now or did you just finish your sixth meal of the day and have a 64 ounce cup of something sitting next to you? We have a good life. We simply got inconvenienced over the last few years because the piper showed up with a bill and he padded it with a few extra zeroes. I am better off now than I was when gas was in the double digits. I am warmer in the winter. My cars (two of them) start without having to pump the gas pedals, and I have more music on my iPod than the local FM station has played in the last 50 years. We no longer have a clothesline. I can buy groceries at a gas station and I can buy oil at the grocery store; all without any cash in my pocket. Shall I continue? I would but Sunday Night Football just came on and I want to go click on a remote and watch a guy making twenty million dollars a year throw football to a guy only making seven million dollars a year. 

August 25, 2012

Spaghetti Night

"Classic Italian" 
There are some things should never change; places that you hope will be around forever. But change will come and so will corporate plates of imitation Italian dinners and bread sticks from the freezer. Here is a classic much as it was decades ago. The decor is living proof.

"A sign of good things to come..."
A long hall of newspaper clippings, old photographs and a vintage coat rack lead you back to two separate dining rooms. On one side is the main restaurant filled with linen covered tables and a full menu. To the left and one step up is a room lined with saggy booths, green-checkered tablecloths, and an a la carte menu. 

"Ambiance on a budget"
Design on a dime must have been here but I like it that way. The sauce tastes better when you sit in a tilted, sagging, spring-weary naugahyde booth. The beer is always colder too. 

"Seeburg Wall-O-Matic 200"
The buttons on this Seeburg tell the tale of a bygone era. Grease soaked and history full this unit has seen it's share of spaghetti stained shirts. An itunes dinosaur whose days are numbered. 

"Get your nose off the screen!" 
You can keep your French cuisine, prime rib, and lobster tails, this meal beats them all. The garlic bread  alone gives them a run for the money. Let's get twirlin'.

 Thanks for stopping in. Come again soon! 

August 22, 2012

Old Things on a Shelf

"Old Things"
It's difficult for me to leave the past alone. It keeps tapping me on the shoulder and showing up in unexpected places. I am pretty sure it has something to do with the aging process. That's the cruel part. I feel as youthful on the inside of my head as I did four decades ago, sometimes more so. I am content and happy. I feel good mentally. Physically I creak and groan like a rusty bike going up a gravel road but when I'm at the top enjoying the view I am fresh air and happy faces. I don't like bitchy old people. I like youth no matter what the age. People with something more on their plate than a pile of shrimp from the Olden Corral. It doesn't matter what you do, but do something more than complain about why it's the presidents fault that you aren't happy. Those people wouldn't be happy if George Washington showed up on the White House lawn handing out free bags of $50's. I like old things on shelves because they bring back many fond memories. I also like soaking in the present in whatever way, shape, or form that peeks in the window that day. Make a good new past. Make a great new past. Make it without hesitation. If you're a young twenty or thirty year old kid reading this, walk away with one good piece of advice. Your, 'someday' is here today. Don't wait until you climb the next range of mountains to look for it. Look at the calendar right now. What month is up there? What is today's date? If you had a magic lamp with one wish, would you wait until 'someday' to make it? Or, would you close your eyes and make your wish right now? Okay, now look around you. Look out the window. Go out to the garage and open the door. Do you see a magic lamp anywhere? No, I didn't either. You might just as well get started on your 'someday' now. Those magic lamps are hard to find. 

"Home of the Lakesider sandwich"

More old things on shelves... 

August 20, 2012

A Home Without Color?

A Home Without Color? 
by John R. Greenwood

What is a home without color? A home without color is without warmth. A home without color is stagnant and lifeless. On this particular evening as I experimented with various settings on my camera I looked around our home. I suddenly realized that Mrs. G was the ultimate house painter. I have taken her skills as a painter/decorator for granted over the years. The fresh flowers that consistently grace our dining room table. The handmade curtains skillfully measured and hemmed. The loving care put into the color palette when choosing something as simple as a sofa pillow. She is a natural. Her combinations of color and texture flow seamlessly throughout our modest home. Oh, what she could do with an HGTV budget. Our home has always been just that - a home. Our first home had three sets of dual wheels, but it was colorful, warm, and full of love. I tease Mrs. G each time she asks if I want to help her change the curtains. "Didn't we just change them?" I complain. I will complain no more. I embrace my color filled home and the painter who paints it. An artist? I think so.

August 18, 2012

Unexpected Expedition

Unexpected Expedition
By John R. Greenwood
"The Perfect Table Setting"

I know when the back gate of my house creaks at 7:30 on a Saturday morning it's one of my sons. This morning it was an unexpected invitation from my youngest. He asked if I wanted to take some nightcrawlers for a morning swim. It's the best way to describe our fishing expeditions. I know my father is left shaking his head as he watches from high above; his son the fishing failure. His grandson although skilled in the, getting up early part, unfortunately was paying as much attention as I was when my father was taking great pains trying to teach us the art of actually catching fish. The good news is, my son and I agree that it's the 'going' part that matters most. 

"The Perfect Frame of Mind"

The best thing about where I live is the proximity to beautiful places to go and not catch fish. Moreau Lake State Park is a favorite of ours. We can get there and have our lines in the water and the coffee we bring from home is still hot. This morning the air was the perfect color and thickness. It was also moving ever so gently. Mother Nature's rainbow sprinkles on the ice cream cone of our day. The park was fairly quiet. There was a little noise coming from behind the tailgate of a pickup across the parking lot. Mr. Thirty-Pack was already calling his tank-topped wife names. A Saturday reminder that stupid never takes a day off. 

"The Perfect Place in Life"

In the end we caught a fish or two, sipped our coffee, took some pictures, breathed in some vintage Mother Nature and enjoyed a couple of hours of 'Place'. It's a good life here on this crazy planet. You simply have to get up early on Saturday morning and take the crawler's swimin'. 

August 17, 2012

Happily Full

"Happily Full"
 Are you full? Will you go to bed tonight feeling like you've done your best to fill your heart, soul, and mind for the day? Are you happily full in your life? If a brave little motel along Route #9 can survive fifty years since the addition of a four lane interstate and still be happily full shouldn't we be able to do the same? A simple little motel with nary a puddle or historical landmark within view of it's driveway survives happily in 2012. As thirty-five thousand dollar cars sail by with their windows up tight and shaking from the BOSE bass thumping within, this happy gal sits smiling--with flowers waving in the wake. She's a survivor; an American original with her proud flag standing tall. I do not know the owners. I pass by several times a week and barely give a glance. On this day something caught my attention. Today my eyes were in tune a tiny bit more than normal. I love signs. Not gloms of Exit #15 WiltonMallMcDonaldsMobilBurgerKingKeyBank signs, but signs that tell me something. Signs that ask questions. The Birches spoke to me today. They stated a fact that posed a question. Am I happily full? I am for the moment, but I continue the search for creative nourishment. I am constantly looking for guests to fill the numerous rooms that line my head. Each guest that passes through leaves an empty room. On more story needed. One more photograph needed to  fill the vacancy. An endless opening and closing of doors. A timeless in and out of ideas and dreams. Lights go on. Lights go off. Rooms change appearance. The clientele varies. The seasons change and so do the vistas that draw my attention. I am happily full moment to moment because I am open for business. I love the courage of The Birches. A happily full place along Route #9. 

August 15, 2012

"Consignment Bridge"

"Consignment Bridge"
Consignment Bridge
By John R Greenwood

I've always wanted to buy a bridge, so when one came on the market a deal was struck, the bridge was mine. It's a beautiful specimen, vintage-strong with a roof of red. A consignment shop find. A real bargain. It sat unnoticed beneath a table of trinkets and glassware. It had work to do. There were gaps to bridge and so it did. Behind the counter a baby cooed in it's mother's arms. A toddler squirmed and wiggled free. A happy place where people come to buy and sell, and smile. A village spot beneath the trees that line the street. A country store but more. A home beneath a home. A collection of collections, a space filled space, a Saturday destination for a husband and wife in no particular hurry. As I left with my bridge tucked under my arm I felt complete. The gap now bridged. The task complete. 

The centerpiece of this story Consignment Bridge was purchased at Faerydale Consignment Shop in Salem New York. If you find yourself chasing the fall foliage in the months to come, stop in and say hello to Robyn the owner. She will be holding a little one I'm sure. Take a look around. You may just find the bridge of your dreams... 

August 14, 2012

Hidden Reflection

"Hidden Reflection"

It has been several weeks since our Hubbard Hall Writing Group first met. Much has happened since. The most enjoyable aspect has been watching other members of the group expand and experiment with their work. I find myself exhausted most nights. It's from wanting to sample anything and everything thats skitters by. Whether it's a photo opportunity or a personal situation that spawns a story idea, my mind is in perpetual motion. It's inspirational intravenous, drip by drip, hour by hour, day by day. As fulfilling as this experience has been to this point it leaves me wanting more and more. I feel revitalized. I can't wait to look around the corner each morning to see what lies ahead. The downfall is lack of time. I eek out every moment I can. I try to get my daily exercise in. I fail miserably at my goal of the perfect eating regimen, even under the ever watchful eye of my coach of thirty eight years. I do my best to uphold my record of placing my work ethic at the top of the pile. Bills still come. The phone still rings. No complaints will be found here. I am happy to be depleted by doing something that does more for my grizzled ticker than any heart medication could ever hope to do. I appreciate those who stop by here regularly to see what's new. My space is meant to be light, a pitstop in the rat race, a sip of morning coffee when your own pot is empty, a little breeze where the air is still. I will be back tomorrow. I hope you will be too. So before I crawl off to bed I want to give you a little explanation of the photo at the top of the page. The colorful glass orange was bought by Mrs G. at McCartee's Barn in Salem. She also purchased a beautiful flower vase(not shown). They were very inexpensive and great finds. So was the visit. While we were sleuthing about the many rooms of antiques and paintings I wandered upon a simply constructed painter's palette. It was loaded for action and gorgeous all on it's own. Luckily before I was silly enough to ask if it was for sale I heard the owner Sue explain to another visitor that Harry Orlyk was painting a watercolor right there in the shop and would be returning soon. The day only got better when Sue pointed us in the direction of the location of my favorite Harry Orlyk painting; not the painting, I already know where it is and where I hope it will be one day, but where Harry painted it. This was the cherry on the top of this author's day. Thank you Salem, you sure fill your town with nice people. The leaves will be turning soon. You should fill your car with gas and turn 'it' toward Washington County. It's got beautiful color in more places than just the trees.

Mr G. made his own purchase at a local consignment shop. Photo and story to follow soon. 
Stay tuned... 

"Refreshing Waters"

Refreshing Waters
by John R. Greenwood

gravel shadows submerged
in summers stream
reappear fresh
across sun-soaked shore

My photo of the spot where Harry Orlyk painted "The Crossing" 
This is my favorite painting of Harry's

August 11, 2012

Country Stop N' Shop

"Country Stop N' Shop"
By John R. Greenwood
gravel parking lot sounds 
as visitors from cities far away
to grab a tasty treat
of life
sampling bits of nostalgia
apple smells linger
year after year
time has no clock
time has all day

Aging Gentleman

"Aging Gentleman"
By John R. Greenwood
in tree lined obscurity
an aging gentleman sits

his chores complete
content in the fact
all is said
and done 

Things you see in Washington County

"Red Dogs and Purring Katz"

August 10, 2012

Adirondack Snow King

"Adirondack Snow King"
Circa. 1992-93
This is a photo of the last dog that owned us. He was a freebie. He was a, ("Daaaad, can we have a dog? There's one down the road that someone is giving away. You have to see him dad. Can we go look at him? He's really nice. Can we dad? Can we pleaseeee?" ) dog. Are you getting my drift? There was no way out of this one. The owner-pitchman even threw in a Taj Mahal dog house and wheelbarrow full of Gravy Train. I have spent a lifetime of being taken to the cleaners by mechanics, contractors, and even an encyclopedia salesman. Had I realized then that this was another hard sell I would have taken off down the sideline on Deon Sanders jaunt. When he was clean, and brushed he was one of the most beautiful dogs on four paws. King was high maintenance times ten. He was high energy and only as bright as the first click of a three-way bulb, but he was one of the most loving and heart grabbing dogs that Mother N. ever created. He had skills. His most famous was the, 'dog-pout' move. He would sit with his back to you, scooched up tight. He wanted you to pet him, now! You would be on your way to a teacher's conference and didn't want to show up looking like the Abominable Snow Man in the Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer flick. You would try to ignore Mr. Snow King. This is when he would pull the trump card and drop his head like a wet towel onto your hair-sucking black slacks. Samoyeds are hair factories. You could insulate a cul-de-sac of two story homes with the hair from just one samoyed. You didn't vacuum, you raked. It was a never ending chore brushing this dog. But man let me tell you when he was in, Full-Fluff there was no dog comparable in the 'beautiful' category.

Giving a samoyed a bath is like washing a large wool blanket in tiny bathroom sink. There is no easy way to do it without making a mess of you and everything around you. You lathered him up like a Buick in the driveway. I would get several pails of warm water to rinse him. The coat of a samoyed is like a gigantic sponge. I checked with Guinness and a samoyed from Jersey holds the record. He had a total of 35 gallons of water poured onto him before he dripped one drop. So, picture this giant lathered and sopping mess of wet stinking hair standing in the middle of the back yard shaking with all his might. Yee-haw! Then the fun part. Now that King was clean you needed to get him dry before he got covered in grass or mud. You couldn't take him back in the house until he was dry. The best way to dry him was to towel him off and you better do it quickly. I would empty a shelf of old bath towels and rub him down like Burgess rubbing down Rocky. Then the parade began. I would walk Spongehair Square-King down Waller Road and back. By the time we strode back into the yard; King looked like one. Although he still needed brushing, he glistened in the sun like a huge pile of white cotton candy with four legs. About 500 brush stokes later and with my chiropractor on speed dial that dog could win Best In Show at Westminster running away.

I'm not sure about other samoyeds but King couldn't find his way home if he had a GPS in his collar. If he escaped my grasp or squeezed out the back door he would bolt as straight as an arrow at 30 mph in whatever direction he was pointed at the time. I got a call one day from someone in the housing development down the road. This was a few hours after he did his dog version of Cool Hand Luke. They said, "I think your dog is sitting on my porch staring at the back door like he's waiting for someone to let him in." I headed down the road to coral him. Their back porch looked identical to ours. Have you ever seen a white fur-ball doing search and rescue?

Here's what King could do. He could pull. That's what samoyeds do best. He loved the snow and he loved yanking my arm out of joint the second I clicked his leash on the collar. One day he was outside on his run. I had a thirty foot cable from the post on our back porch to a maple at the edge of the yard. The kids were hanging around the garage with their friends when another boy from down the street came blasting through the yard on a moped. That John Deere with a tail took off on a dead run after that moped and pulled the support post right out from under the corner of the porch. I was in the house and thought someone drove a Freightliner into the side of it. It was like a scene from the movies. I came running to the backdoor. The boys were all yelling. My porch was listing dangerously   south. Moped boy was drifting around the north corner of the house with a barking samoyed, thirty feet of cable, and the corner of my porch close behind. Luckily for him the cable snubbed King up tight when he got to that thirty foot mark. All I can remember was the sound of that moped fading into the distance as the dust and chaos settled at the corner of Waller and Northern Pines.

August 07, 2012

Battenkill Magic

Dogs eye view of a book signing
Battenkill Books does it again. Battenkill Books is a magical place that has a way bringing people together. It has a calming tone that oozes out from the book covered walls and up through the beautiful hardwood floors. Dogs lay quite. Children behave and listen. Adults young, old, and in need of nourishment come here from miles around. On this night they came to listen to Jon Katz speak about his latest release, "The Story of Rose: A Man and His Dog" Jon's readers packed this little gem of a book store. They sat and listened to Jon share his interpretation of the publishing world as he sees it in the present day. You see, Jon's newest book was released online as an ebook. For this book there would be no hard or soft cover book to sign. It is the new world. It is reality. Most in attendance didn't seem to care. They simply love to read. They love dogs and they love surrounding themselves by people who care about their animals and the people around them. Imagine Battenkill Book Store owner Connie Brooks opening her mind and heart to embrace a new world of technology. "It's about reading" she said. That's what makes this place so special. Its roots run deeper than the bottom line. The energy of reading is strong. Strong enough to trust that it will be around in some form for generations to come. Books are knowledge. We learn from them. We grow from them. They are not about putting up walls. They are about breaking them down. Does it really matter what form they take? Jon and Connie spent the evening opening us up to what lies ahead. Once again I left this community with my mind and heart full. Mrs. G and I left for home through the twisting turning roads of Washington County absorbing the beauty of the sun setting behind the plush green hills. A man and his dogs, a woman and her bookstore both stayed behind sharing, supporting, and looking forward to what will come their way tomorrow.
I am confident that for them and for those who share their vision, the future is bright.
Yours truly,
John R. Greenwood

August 05, 2012

Hello Bob, my name is....

Robert Bootier's
Rhodesian Ridgeback
"Hello Bob, my name is... 
     By John R. Greenwood

That's the way I began my Sunday afternoon message to Robert Bootier, a local artist. I typed it slow so I would not make an error. After all, I didn't know the person at the other end of my Facebook message. I was running on a hunch and an "I wonder if...". I told Bob how much I liked his work. It had a bold style, a little heavy on the saturation, just the way I tweak my photographs. The way I enjoy them best. The handful I saw right away were interesting subject matter, mostly local. I didn't waste any time. I asked him straight up if he was related to Bob and Connie Bootier, two people I knew a long  time ago. I told him I remembered a young Bobby standing by his fathers side in a store named, "The Country Store" even though it was a half block north of the Jefferson Terrace on Saratoga's West Side. I kept typing. I told him it didn't matter if he was or wasn't, but that I liked his work and I invited him to check out my Facebook page and blog. I ended my initial message by telling him he might see someone or something familiar while he was looking around. 

Bob replied almost instantly. I pushed my chair back and took a deep breath. The artist thanked me for complimenting his work. He acknowledged that Bob and Connie where indeed his mother and father, and that, "Yes, he was that young kid I'd remembered from the store on Jefferson St." He said he would check out my blog. He said, "Who knows, maybe I will recognize you." 

My day was complete at that point but there was more to follow. I responded one more time, my pulse raised a bit from the resurrection of some long forgotten memories. I told Bob that when I was a young boy I used to stock shelves and sweep the floor at the Greenfield General Store. At the time it was Bob senior who owned and operated it. He ran it with a friend in the years prior to running the store in Saratoga. In fact I said, "I wrote a story about working for your father. It's in the last paragraph of the piece." I sent him a link. I explained my love of writing. I told him that growing up in Greenfield provided many fond memories and pages of material. I knew Bob had lost his dad at an early age. I wanted him to know how fond of his dad I was and that I was sorry. I told him I was in the process of reinventing my life. I encouraged him to keep his brushes moist and his passion moving forward. I told him I hoped we could stay in contact and maybe we might shake hands one day. I wished him good luck. 

I headed off to another site when that familiar ding brought me back to the message page we had been on. It was Bob. "I do believe I remember you. You delivered milk to the store on Jefferson St. You were missing a finger. I think you were well built, like maybe you worked out or worked really hard. If that was you, my father liked you. He had respect for you. I was pretty young, probably between eight and fourteen at the time, so I could be completely wrong!" 

Wrong hell, I thought! I was built like a brick chimney at the time. I worked hard and worked out. You bet that was me! Believe it or not though, I was stunned by the fact that Bob remembered his father liked and respected me. That statement stopped me dead in my tracks. That was 30 years ago. All those 14 hour days of hard work and forgotten milk bills were worth it I thought to myself. Isn't respect what really matters? It's got longevity. Trump has it all wrong. 

Well, now that Bob and I have established our past commonalities he asks me how well I know Jon Katz? He tells me of the day he attended one of Jon's book signings a couple of years ago and took some pictures. He says he took the photographs home and did a painting of a black lab puppy named Lenore. He said the funny thing is Jon never knew it. The sad thing is, he traded the painting to a picture framer for the framing of several other paintings that he had been working on. Can you feel the stew thickening? 

Well for the next half an hour, painting artist Bob and amateur writer John volley talk of Macs, and Canons, and Blogger links back and forth. Within the total hour having never spoken a word, we have established computer and political preferences. We have covered over thirty years of history and I am giving him directions to Jon's Katz unveiling of his new eBook, "The Story of Rose: A Man and His Dog" at Battenkill Books the following day.  

You don't like technology? You might be missing a message. 

Not The End

The search for a puppy in a painting continues...

You might want to stick around? 


August 04, 2012


"A Farm Remembered"

To listen to a voice recording of this piece by the author click here:Brookside Dairy

By John R. Greenwood 
When I think back it’s as though I was taking photographs as child. I can hear the camera shutter clicking in my mind. It was like a vacuum drawing in hay fort joy, clinking milk bottle sounds, and cow barn smells. I picture a group of men and young boys grouped under the canopy of an old maple near the farms entrance. Some sitting Indian style. Some leaning against the posts of a white board fence, feet outstretched in the tall June grass. All enjoying their well deserved break; especially the boys. The rustle of a paper bag is loud and inviting as one of the workmen opens his lunch and pulls out a thick bologna and cheese sandwich. It looks dry and delicious. 
And so my life would be this way. Capturing these images and seemingly insignificant snippets of time, and tucking them away for future reference. Each moment that caused me to pause, even just slightly, has been cataloged as if waiting to be called up at a moments notice. 
These little stories remained untouched, revolving endlessly in my mind; a movie loop of smiles, smells and voices. All fond memories, even when carrying some pain. One such vision is of me sitting on a school bus full of jumping bean children most so young their little feet swing free above the bus floor. They all stop and freeze as a young grade-school teacher signals the bus driver to open the door for a moment. She has something to tell us. Although her face remains nameless, I clearly see the fear and tears in her eyes. It’s November 22nd,1963, President Kennedy has been shot. There are few details. “You will get more news when you get home.” she says. The bus sits there idle, no motor running. No voices can be heard- only a shocked hush as we all look around at each other. We are young, very young, but we all still know this is bad news, sad news. Children-voices blend into a murmur of disbelief and we simply sit there and digest the news. 
These memories define you. I have volumes of them and many of the most cherished were spawned by a dairy farm. “Brookside Dairy” - even the name can drop your pulse rate to a gentle hum. My grade school friend Randy’s grandfather Harold C Hall ran the farm and dairy with his son Harold “Sonny” Hall. An agricultural seed was planted for me here. I would never move far away. My roots ran deep here and my soul forever nurtured by the soil around them. I sneak back through when I can, peeking into the backyards of the homes where I played and absorbed. Each face brings a story. Each story brings a face. Emotion for me was created by the accumulation of all the people who crossed my path in the last half century.  I traveled the dirt paths and gravel roads surrounding Brookside Dairy soaking up my many friendships like a cookie dunked in milk. Friendships that continue to nourish me today. It’s not that friendships and good memories can’t be found in the shadows of tall buildings but there’s something special about stacking hay bales high on a swaying wagon full of sunburned boys in jeans and white t-shirts. Boys with scabs and long stories of how they got them. Boys with imaginations and the knowledge to use them. Boys whose energy and love of place can only be found in the deep nutrient full soil of a country farm. 
"Music to my eyes"

August 02, 2012

A night at "The Joe"

A Night At "The Joe" 
by John R. Greenwood
A night at "The Joe"
There's nothing quite like enjoying America's Past-Time at night. This night would be no exception. I have to admit that I am not a diehard baseball fanatic. I love Field of Dreams and I can remember the 86 Mets Series like it was yesterday but I'll take a Redskin thumping of the Cowboys any day. But there is something special about a summer baseball game under the lights. The sights, sounds, and especially the smells are at their peak at an evening game. If you close your eyes and listen carefully you can hear America humming all around you. People stand taller and prouder when the National Anthem is belted out at a night game. The air breathes in easier too. Hot dogs smell like t-bones and popcorn fumes could cure depression. Little ones seem to behave better too. It's as though they left their whiny gene at the gate coming in. From the first inning to the last, silver topped seniors seem loose and at ease, their eyes full of memories of ballgames past, played in fields behind the house, with friends that now have faces with no names. The lights and shadows have depth and meaning. It's Norman Rockwell for 9 innings plus. Unlike a day at the track, there are no real losers here. Even the team at the short end of the scoreboard would have to savor an evening like this.

"Along the Rail" 

"Waiting for a Sign" 
"The view from Heaven" 

A night at "The Joe" to be continued...

Adventures with Mrs. G. 
I have to go to work now. I will be back.

August 01, 2012

Sorting It Out

Sorting It Out
By John R. Greenwood
"Time and traffic stop for no man" - John R. Greenwood 
Life seems to have shortened its window. 
I feel an urge to squeeze more life into each day. 
Unfortunately I tend to be exhausted at days end; and several hours prior. 
I’m not certain whether it’s physical or mental or a parlay of the two but it scares me. There are so many things I want to do, and so many things I need to do, and so many things I hate to do. 
How do you sort them?
It’s like trying to sort a closet full of favorite shirts; frayed collars and memories, have-to-save dress shirts, just in case shirts, vacation sweatshirts with paint stains and torn pockets.
Which one to save? 
Which pile? 
Which mental attachment do we discard and risk losing forever? 
Hard choices. 
Just keep them all. 
Put off the sorting one more day. 
Hold off that life-altering decision for another twenty-four. 
There’s always tomorrow.
Isn’t there?