October 31, 2012


by John R. Greenwood

How fragile this life. A balancing act between earth and her whims. A mighty wind blows and life becomes death just one wave away. We smirk when warnings blare. Not our problem. Not my yard. But then, just as we turn and walk away, a boat lands upside down in your driveway, staring in through the plateless window. Now what? Who cares now? Where are the red lights filled with men and their helping hands. Heed the news next time we say. Who was paying attention. No one could ever imagine. Only the ones before who lay witness to strong winds and forecasts shown. Deep waters flow where they like. They settle in places they'd never been before-or again. So slight our tempest seemed, while her Sandy curls waved from far off seas. But now her anger felt. Her message heard. I will not be ignored. Nor taken for weak. You were the fragile one she says- like a clay jug balanced up high. 

October 27, 2012

In Need Of Closure

In Need Of Closure
By John R. Greenwood

Documenting the closing of an era

My cellar had his way too long. Thirty years is a long time to procrastinate closure. Today is the day I close the door on an open cellar way. With Hurricane Sandy baring up on us in a fit of rage I decided it was time to put my foot down and regain control, get my way, take away the cellar’s way. I spat in my palms and made a pact with myself. There would be no more, “I need another decade to figure this out.” The day and the project were planned. It was final. I grabbed my tape measure and cordless drill. It’s time to put some closure to this story. 

I started before dawn. I already had most of the material. What I did not have was a blueprint or diagram. I had it all planned in my mind; sort of. 

I was blessed with an extra large entrance to the cellar. I was also lucky to have a back porch roof that covered it high above. Having the porch roof was the only reason I was able to postpone this project so long. It wasn’t so much the rain and snow collecting there, it was the leaves and debris that blew there from the yard. The large opening is a homeowner’s dream. It allows easy access when having to store summer items for the winter. It also provides passage to a dry, oversized cellar which remains unfinished and routinely overstocked. When my sons were at that nomad age, just out of high school, it was the original storage unit before there were storage units. 

I constructed a well insulated door at the base of the cellar years prior. It survives intact. The last bastion against a deep well of sticks and maple leaves. Those same leaves and sticks that taunt me to grab a broom when I pass by. Today I was going to put an end to the cellar having it’s way. I saw an opening.  

Pre-dawn Prep

It was too early to fire up the skill saw. The neighbors would not have been happy. I headed for the hardware store. I still needed a few things. It was going well so far. 

The day progressed much better than expected. There were few breaks. Only one or two quick peeks at the laptop checking on Sandy's progress and whether or not our writing group was still planning to meet on Sunday. It was an all business DIY. Mrs. G provided refreshments and a vote of confidence. The weather cooperated and the yard work promised to wait for me. The clock was in a hurry. It was after noon already. My back was beginning to complain. 

Things were coming together nicely. The door ended up heavier than I'd hoped; sturdier than expected. The two facts canceled each other out. The fact that it cost about one quarter of what a steel one would have, provided a warm glow. 

No beer was harmed in the creation of this post before, during, or after. I just liked the idea for the photo. I'm sorry to say this but, it was an empty can from the recycling bin. 

The point of this post and the final picture is this:

Life is sometimes doing what needs to be done. Whether it's checking something off on a thirty-year old to-do-list or putting in a long day at work, life is what you make of it. It's not simply about collecting trophies. Just be glad your here to live it. 

October 25, 2012

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son 
by John R. Greenwood

This post is about fathers and sons. I took these photographs at a recent company event. The event was a truck rodeo where our company's truck drivers could compete and test driving skills. There were multiple parts to the skills test and one of them involved a written portion. Gabe Lafond and his son Josh seemed to operate as one throughout the day. It was impossible not to extract pure joy out of watching this little boy emulate his father's every move. Josh appeared to be taking the whole thing as seriously as his dad. He thought through every question just like dad and scribbled his best answer to each question even though he had never encountered a DOT Roadside Inspection. When his father was performing a mock pre-trip inspection, young Josh watched intently from the curb, as if dad was in the Olympics competing for gold. Watching the reverence young Josh had for his father was the highlight of the day. He did not fuss once. He performed like a true professional, just like dad. 

"Dad, it's a four-second following distance, I'm sure of it!' 

"Don't forget to check the lug nuts Dad!" 

"Pizza--It's a man thing"

October 21, 2012

Inmate #405

Inmate #405
by John R. Greenwood

     If  you follow Raining Iguanas with any regularity, or if you just take a gander at the variety of my posts, you will notice a pattern. My view of the world depends on the day and how the light hits the window. Today's post is a bit off the beaten path. I was reading the post of a fellow blogger/writer recently. It was a story she had written about her deceased father. He had Alzheimer's and she was describing a day she had taken him to the movies. You can read it here. Her post reminded me of the various adventures I experienced with my father in his later years. One in particular takes me from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. It happened shortly after he made the decision to move into an adult care facility. I don't know what the politically correct name is. It was by all accounts a nursing home environment. He knew it was the safest place to be at that point. He was capable of making the choice on his own and we discussed it for a long time before making the move. His room was on the fourth floor and he had been there for only a few weeks. He was adjusting. Whether it was well or hell, it was better that he had immediate access to help when he needed it. He was a man of routine by now. It was mostly out of necessity. He could only venture short distances and needed to be attached to oxygen most of the time. He needed his things close by. Once the nurses knew if they helped him get everything situated just so, he was relatively happy. Ultimately it made their life easier and him feeling more independent. But, and here's the but, if his routine was altered slightly he would find a way to make his voice heard. That voice manifested itself in many ways and it wasn't always verbal.  
     One day when I came to visit on my way home from work, the door was closed. Usually it was open. He liked watching the parade of activity in the hall. It gave him something to bitch about. That was a good thing. It gave him purpose.
     When I opened the door he was sitting there pouting, obviously perturbed. He knew I was capable of reading between the lines. He counted on it. It saved him from having to ask for help. I was supposed to fix it without any exchange of words. This day it seemed a little more serious. "What's going on?" Finally I had to force a response. "Dad I can tell you're upset, what's wrong?" He turned in his wheelchair and pointed. "Will you please push that damn door open. I keep asking them to leave it open. If they don't push the door tight to the magnets it closes. I give up!" That is when I notice this yellow sign taped to the door.

Push Door Hard Against Wall! 
So It Stays Open.
Thank You! 
inmate #405 
     I stood there and read it. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I still don't. All I know for sure is, on that day, it took my breath away. It obviously had an impact on me because I gently pulled the sign down and I've saved it. I also walked directly to the nurses station that day and opened the door of communication wide, real wide. Mostly I am a nice person. On this day I was an elder advocate to the tenth degree. I never found the door closed again. 
     This is not the end of the story. Here it is a few years later. I was prompted to write this piece by my friend's post. I go to one of the dozens of binders where I keep my, 'stuff' and I pull out the sign I saved and I scan it on the computer. I began to adjust the clarity to get the clearest copy possible so that it was easy to see. In my effort I slide the highlights adjustment and all of a sudden I realized there was writing on the back of my father's emphatic directive. I tried reading it backwards as if it was some ghost message from the past. There was something a bit eerie about the whole thing. I opened the cover of the scanner and slowly flipped over the hand written sign. This is what was on the back (front) side of dad's sign. 

My father led a full and eventful life. He loved to hunt and fish. He did both as much as possible and more than most. He loved to have a good time with drink and friends. There weren't long stretches where that didn't happen. He never wanted to spend his last years fighting poor health and emergency room visits in the middle of the night, but who does. He knew the reality of the situation and he handled it better than most. One thing I am sure of. In his subliminal--and authority taunting way, he wrote that sign on the back of this sensationalizing and scare tactic advertisement on purpose. It was his way of fighting back. It was his protest sign. I knew it when I saw it. He knew I would understand. He was counting on it. 

October 20, 2012

What's up Scooter?

"What's Up Scooter?"
I stopped to meet my wife at the Skidmore College Campus where she works the other day. I was early and had some time. I don't go to the mailbox without my camera. This day was no exception so I grabbed my trusty friend and decided to walk around the beautiful grounds for a while. The scene above begged my camera for attention. The caption just seconds behind. The People insignia seemed to fit the Blue Ribbon day to a T. That's the way it goes for me. Blog material, life material is there for the taking. We walk right through the middle of it every day, we complain how life sucks, and then we come home and wilt like lettuce left on the counter. Thankfully I discovered a venue to grab a little extra life on the way through and so this blog was born. There are thousands out there doing the same thing. I stumble upon them. I seek them out. Yes, I have left my television for another. Television has sucked the brain matter from my head for too long. Mostly I am confused about when the shows end and the commercials begin. I will still keep the big boy flat screen for my Sunday football fix and a Friday night taste of Triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), but I think the relationship is pretty much over. I have my blog and my blog has me. There are places and people to discover and since I have to keep showing up at the time clock, it looks like the world I explore will have to remain as an internet/real world combo. That's okay with me too. There is always fresh coffee just a few steps away. The heat is on, and I can write a post before I shave. What amazes me are the number of (Real) talented people, young and old out here doing this; sharing, writing, and snapping shudders like there's no tomorrow. What does bother me, and I try not to venture there much, are the hurtful and sensationalistic blogs. I imagine their numbers far out number the  stop and smell the coffee type like mine. But that is the joy of it. People venture where they feel comfortable. I am very appreciative of those who feel that way here. I don't have a mission statement per say but would hope no one leaves here in a snit. Life's too short for that. 

October 19, 2012


by John R. Greenwood

I miss my two sons living at home. The two boys who used to fight over who was going to use the riding mower. One simply wanted to do donuts in the backyard, the other actually mowed. Now with lawns of their own, the responsibility of their father's yard has come full circle. I began my lawnscaping career back in the 1960's. My father would announce that the lawn needed to be mowed. I was to take it from there. Dad and I would share the work load in the spring and fall but in the summer when I was out of school the chore was primarily mine. Back then it was a true chore because we lived in Greenfield, NY and I learned early where my hometown got its name. With my fingers wrapped around the handle of the push mower chest high, off I pushed through tall fields of green. Oh, it had a healthy Briggs and Stratton but it was all push; unlike the Cadillac of mowers pictured in the present day photo above, which basically pulls me along for the ride.
Back in the sixties procrastinating my chore resulted in a nightmarish afternoon of  forging through tall thick fescue. Grass so deep, thick and green you would think it had been fertilized by some Scott's Turf Builder mad scientist. That was the problem in Greenfield, the grass felt it had to meet the expectations of its namesake. I was also about 100lbs lighter then. So here you have a flyweight preteen, a 1960's lawn mower that is all push, a now field of grass so deep and thick you could loose a basketball in it and do you know what you end up with? An afternoon of push-stall-rake-pull-start-push-stall-rake-pull-start-stall-rake-pile-pick up pile- repeat. All this was done in the heat of the baking July sun. What would take me an hour or so if I had done it a week prior, when first mentioned, now took an entire summer afternoon that could have been more happily spent on the seat of my bicycle. I will admit that the lawn was a beauty when it was done right. The satisfaction of a well maintained lawn is deeply embedded in my bloodstream. Lawnscaping is a bit different for me these days. I now live with the sandier soil of Wilton, NY under my feet. The grass here needs more love on the front side. It wains and stalls in the summer heat. I encourage it, then complain, and so it goes. I do love it. I do hate it. It's all about time and timing.

October 18, 2012

Downside Upward

Downside Upward
By John R. Greenwood 

Love this crazy life
when it's all

If everything came out perfect at the end of Thursday,
why would you take a chance on starting Friday?

Look forward to
You never know what might 


October 15, 2012

Life Rocks


Life rocks if you rock it. 
It's a childlike thrill ride. 
Savor the beauty of the simple things. 
A vintage equine awaits.
Sit down and get moving.

Photograph and Prose
by John R. Greenwood

October 14, 2012

Battle of October

Battle of October
By John R. Greenwood

stubborn troopers high  
grip tight their maple home  
refusing to join fallen comrades 
on the battlefield below

rakeman waits with tilted head
his impatience growing 
year upon year 
this ritual game 

the battle stalled
a setting sun declares 
a draw 
and leaves

October 12, 2012



My life has changed in many ways since the first post of this blog. I have met many people who inspire me to continue growing, learning, and exploring. I am grateful each day for having them in and around my life. Each new mile marker brings another thought, another plan, another goal. I have no fear of tomorrow. The only fear is missing a sign. My eyes remain wide, deep into the night, and into the words I read and write. I am hopeful for the future. I am thankful for the past. As one layer is shed and each new coat applied appearances change, change appears. 

Photo taken at Old Sturbridge Village 10.8.12

October 11, 2012

Fence Post

Fence Post
By John R. Greenwood

Each post, one more section of fence complete. As days pass its beauty stretches to fields beyond. To pastures that out distance the imagination and the imagined. As in life the sections may never connect, the circle never complete. The joy is in constructing. The post buried deep in solid ground stands firm against the winds of criticism. 


by John R. Greenwood 

they came by ship and sail
they came by horse and train
worn shoes and some without
they came
the beautiful
languages of so many voices
views of rights 
and wrongs
but they kept coming
but never quiet or quite the same
they came
our loves and lives 
compile an america 
a patchwork of hearts
quilted souls bound together
colors bright in range
minds too
gathered here as one nation 
the bold and restless one

*Photo taken by the author at Old Sturbridge Village 10.8.12 

October 09, 2012

Spanky's Clam Shack

"Hyannis Harbor Welcome Sign"
The delicious scent of the ocean blows in the backdoor of Spanky's and drifts out the front door in the form of fried clams, shrimp, oysters, fresh fish and chips and any other seaside delectable you care to list. We just happened to be the lucky residents of the Hyannis Holiday Motel just across the street. It was a first time visit to Cape Cod for this author who was born somewhere in the 50's. Although Cape Cod was a mere mornings drive from our home the opportunity simply never materialized. That fact could be considered a sad one but I am taking the, I don't think I would have appreciated it as much if I had been here as a younger man, stance. It was a greatly needed and highly anticipated off-season vacation for my wife and I. She had been here as a child and the memory lingered in a fuzzy-fond way. What transpired on this Columbus Holiday weekend would be a ho-hum everyday no-kidding experience for anyone already familiar with the finely lit sign on the shingled forehead of Spanky's but it would be much more special for me. Mrs. G and I were tired from a long day on the road. The husband and wife volley of, "What do you want to eat?", "Where do you want to go?", "Do you want to order a pizza?", "Do you want to walk up to Main St.?" placed us on the precipice of a dangerous marital cliff. In my years of husband training I learned not to push my agenda too hard. It's a suicide mission if you are an untrained rookie. "I will just go across the street and see if they do take out. If they do I will order you a salad with grilled chicken and I will get the seafood treat of my choice.  I will return with an answer or an order." What I failed to see from our balcony perch across the street was the front door opened to a take-out counter and the side and back of the restaurant were all dedicated to table service. What a lottery hit I experienced when I opened the front door and there was a wall sized blackboard lined with all the take-out options available. Sides and salads were a daily double bonus. I ordered fish and chips for me and a garden salad with grilled chicken for my patient and road weary wife. A pleasant and polite teen took my order. She pre-apologized for my having to wait. She said they were very busy. I explained that being in a hurry had been scratched from my to-do list and that waiting at the counter was not a problem. I was so relieved that my trip back to the room would be a victory stroll that I asked if I could have a Cape Cod Red while waiting. Another winning hand followed as she directed an over 21 waiter to bring a savory pint of brew to my spot at the counter.  As I sipped the ice cold froth off the CCR my eyes rose to the small flat screen to the left of the kitchen door. There was a South Carolina vs. Georgia football game on. One of the women waiting tables kept pausing as she passed the screen. I couldn't keep my mouth shut, "Do you have money on the game?" I asked. She never blinked. She said,"No, my brother is the strength and conditioning coach for So. Carolina. He's ten years younger than I am and he already has his 'Dream Job'." It was heart warming to see how proud and happy she was for him. Her excitement had everyone within range scanning the screen for a glimpse of her dear brother. It created a simple window of entertainment for me. It was much better than sitting at an overpriced restaurant and listening to Hoity and Toity spew 'Look at Me'  table talk back and forth. Unfortunately my order didn't take that long to assemble. I tossed back the remaining CCR stuffed a tip in the cup on the counter and headed back to our eagle's nest view of the harbor. This vacation was going to look, taste, and feel great. I called the front desk and booked an extra day. 

*The fish and chips was the most delicious part of the experience. 

Spanky's Take-Out Counter 

October 08, 2012

Profound -- Before & After

(A Writing Prompt)
Where do you find the profound? 

I find the profound when I turn around. It taps me on the shoulder when I least expect it. It flies by my window when the wind blows. The profound never waits for me to get dressed. Nor does it care if my hair is combed. The profound like a persistent salesman simply shows up at the back door waiting for acknowledgement. The profound taunts me at the break of dawn and at the hour of midnight. I never argue. The mind opens and listens attentively. The profound sometimes whispers in my ear. The volume at times deafens with blaring trumpets. I have learned by now to keep a bag packed and ready. The profound you find may be the one you were looking for--so long ago.

October 07, 2012

Vacation Rebirth

Baptism by Sea

On the fourth morning of our Cape Cod vacation we watched another rebirth of sorts take place on the shores of the Atlantic. We had just pulled into the parking lot of a small beach near our hotel when a white Mitsubishi SUV pulled in behind us. There was an 8' wooden cross wrapped in a red cloth protruding through the open sun roof. It was a captivating sight that couldn't help but peak your interest.  We parked the car and waited. A small group of people gathered then walked quietly out onto the beach and over to the waters edge. A seaside baptism was about to blossom on the sands of Cape Cod. We walked up to an observation deck on the edge of the park and witnessed the joy of someone receiving a cleansing of their soul and spirit in a very real and invigorating way. 

The Cleansing Begins
The minister, an assistant and the parishioner waded slowly out into the cool waters of Cape Cod and the baptism took place. 

A Clean Fresh Heart Beats Strong
As the minister ended his ceremony he called out to the handful of witnesses on shore, "Is there any one else who wishes to join us?" Silently I responded, "Thank you Reverend, I already did." 

October 06, 2012

Gnawing Your Way To Happiness

Don't you wish someone would throw you bone so you could gnaw your way to happiness. Life would be so much nicer if we were able to solve our problems by lying in a corner quietly gnawing them into oblivion. Look how doggone happy this guy is. I'm pretty sure I heard him purring. He was totally engrossed in this hunk of bliss. It was a beautiful day on Nantucket. Even the pets were soaking in the warmth of this sun-drenched October day with a sense that there were few left on the calendar. As I passed the doorway of this colorful shop the scene above stopped me in my tracks. It was the calmness that surrounded this well loved animal that seemed to roll out on to the brick walkway and down the cobblestone street. Everyone passing by had a spell cast upon them. Smiles took over and babies stopped crying. Kids stopped whining and moms were overcome by a comforting ease. Dads opened their wallets with nary a flinch. Shop owners said, "Thank You"and "Please Come Again!"


Nice Dog...
Are you dog person? What does that mean exactly? I love dogs. We don't have a dog right now but I feel like I am living in Dog Person World. Since my association with Jon Katz and our Hubbard Hall Writing Group began, I feel like a member of a club of which I am an outsider looking in. I now find myself drawn to dog scenes and photo opportunities. Spending a few days in and around Cape Cod provided many of them. The photograph above is an example. Although this handsome pooch is solid as a rock and cost nothing to feed the child petting him does not care. She is drawn to him and immediately began to pet him and speak softly as though he was as real as Lassie. I could not miss the chance to capture that gentle connection. We saw many similar scenes that day. I will post them as time allows. To all dog owners in the Cape Cod area today, if you see a gray haired man with a camera trying to sneak a shudder click of you and your loved one with a tail, it's only me -- a dog-less dog-person.

October 02, 2012

Dusk Lawn

Dusk Lawn 
By John R. Greenwood

There's something special about mowing the lawn late in the day in October. The smell and feel of the air has the heft of a bag of wet leaves. It sticks to your lungs in a good way. I love being the last man standing out there in the yard in that after 5 o'clock lawn race. It's that fall adrenaline rush of trying to get everything cleaned up in time for that first blanket of snow. Fall is my favorite season by far. Yes the colors are one good reason but the clincher is the air. The snap that it has revives my spirit. It brings me back to backyard football games and burning leaf piles. The first day you dig out your favorite fall fleece, sweatshirt, or corduroy shirt always produces an extra spark to your pace. I'm not talking about the first day you head out the backdoor to find a sheet of frost on your windshield. By that time the fall high has tailed off a bit. I like those semi-cool evenings when the leaves rest softly on top of the fresh high grass just waiting to be crushed into leaf-crumbles and ground down into the soil.

The tracks of the mower wheels are more pronounced, more deliberate in the damp fall lawn. Your hard work stands out more as if to say, "Look at me!" I am trim and fit and ready for Halloween. The lights of autumn help a great deal. Whether they come from a passing car on it's way to the mall or from the timed garage lights that seem anxious for you to go inside. The mixture of smell, touch, and light create a palette for the senses that linger year after year. I hate to see the summer end. So many more things I would have liked to have done. Oh well, there's always next year? 

So here I am after falling 57 times and each one has something new to offer. This one is being documented in photos and words. Thank you Mother Nature for your hard work and expertise. You put together another fine display this year. I appreciate you letting me be a part of it one more time. I look forward to many more. If you could possibly send us another winter like you gave us last year it would be great. Why the old Toro snowblower didn't even muss his hair last year.

It's getting late now.
I think I smell hot coffee...