March 30, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

It was the last Saturday in March and I needed a lift. Although it was a generic winter by Northeast New York standards, it still took a toll on me. My weight was up. My spirits were a little damp. Although there were exciting things approaching in the weeks ahead, I still needed a, “good swift kick in the pants.” I decided an early morning walk was in order. I threw on a warm hat and gloves, grabbed the camera, a small writing pad, and my driver’s license (just in case a texting terrorist happens to use me for morning target practice) and out the back door I went--in search of a sign of spring. I knew I needed something special to ignite my soggy mood. I began to think about my friend the mocking bird. The mocking bird who inspired me to write one of my first published pieces, Life Is Where You Look. I couldn't think of a more appropriate sign than to see and hear some tree top tunes. 
I was a quarter mile down the road when I took a right hand turn into the office complex where my feathered friend likes to sing from the light pole tops. That's when I caught a hint of music. It wasn’t Lady Gaga coming from the Honda Civic that scooted by, it was coming from above and beyond. I tilted my head and lifted my ear to the sky. Sure as sprouting crab grass I heard it. It was a song mix that could only come from Disney magic or a mocking bird and all signs pointed to my friend. 

I am in some unexplained way convinced that this spring ritual of visiting the mocking bird at the end of my road is some affirmation from mom high above. In some warm and personal way I have taken it as a sign that her and dad are okay and that I should continue on my midlife journey with youthful exuberance. It's a simple way to reenergize my heart and my spirit. What happened next took this little story to another level. Trust me when I tell you this bird never flinched when I approached. In fact mocking birds seem to take great pleasure in entertaining anyone who will watch or listen. As I stood there leaning against the adjacent light pole I put away my camera and pulled out my pad to jot down the notes I used to create this post. At that exact moment, that white bellied bird took flight and set itself to dance. It soared in and out of the trees like a small kite in a brisk wind. She swooped and darted, she flitted and circled. Around and around a small group of trees she danced. You could see the joy in that birds flight and as I watched the choreographed performance play out, the joy in my heart swelled like a bucket of sponges. There was something extra special about that ninety-second display. Then something strange happened. I slowly pulled out my camera to capture the moment, and the second I brought the camera up in front of me the dance ended and she flew back to the top of the pole and stared down at me. She looked  right at me as if to say, "I knew what you needed. That dance was for you and no one else." I tucked the camera back inside my coat, tipped my head in respect and walked away with just what I needed, and much, much more. 

As I left the parking lot of Community Care Pediatrics I heard a different chorus being directed my way. I looked up and saw the fattest, reddest, happiest robin I have ever seen, singing her big fat heart out. Singing backup on the right was the brightest, proudest, most energetic cardinal I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Both birds seemed to be saying goodbye. It was as if the whole group had gathered in this highly populated place to take a stand and let everyone know how much joy there is left in the world. It was as if all three were sending me the same message. 

There is beauty throughout the world. You can find it when you want to. You need to trust your instincts and never hesitate to follow where your heart tries to point you.

On the last day of March I was reminded of this and how it turned a short walk down the road into a 'growing' experience. On my home my lungs and my heart were replenished and my stance; well let's just say I was walking a little taller...

March 28, 2013

It's What I Do

It's What I Do.
By John R. Greenwood

In order for me to hold up my end of the marriage agreement and help pay the mortgage I must show up for work everyday. My work-life revolves around safe driving; teaching it, preaching it, and practicing it. For the last two days I have been up to my neck in a Truck Safety and Education Symposium in Albany. The purpose of this piece is not to spread the message of how important safe driving is nor is it to promote any individual company, agency, product, or individual. The purpose of this piece is two-fold. I thought it would be interesting to talk about the pull between what we have to do to eat, and what we have to do to survive. 
Aren't they the same thing? 
No, and I'll tell you why. 

Although I am as 
passionate about following distance as I am a posting a poem, photo, or touching story I sometimes have to decide between what I love to do and what I have to do. I am quite content living in the median between the two roads. I have spent much of the last few decades mired in the work-life, unable to breathe, unable to define the other life we all seem to be searching for. Only in the last few years have I begun to embrace writing, sharing, and absorbing. My blog has saved me. It has given me a venue, an injection of creative joy. 

The last two days have revived my work-life because of the people I met and their commitment to promoting public safety. Every person I met in the last two days took great pride in their roles. I am tired of hearing Joe Public complain about our neighbors in governmental positions. In the last two days I have met dozens of representatives from all areas of the government and from every level. They are not different. They are struggling to get the car repaired and the dog to the vet just like you and I.

They sit on safety boards because they care. They share information because they love to teach and encourage each other. 

I received a message from  Jon Katz this week. He announced exciting news about a reception and presentation our writing group will be sharing on May 31st at the Freight Depot Theater in Cambridge, NY. It is one more mile in our writing journey. I am being honest when I tell you how happy I am to be a part of both entities; my work-life and my writing-life. Each one carrying it own merits and rewards. It really boils down to the effort you put into what your doing. Work can be as rewarding as anything you do if you approach it with the right attitude. That sometimes requires stepping back and re-evaluating, not only what you have, but what you are looking to accomplish in your life. This has been a busy week. I missed my writing-life, revved up my work-life, and so the the cycle goes...

"Sometimes to survive--you mix the two." -jrg

March 24, 2013

One Simple Request

One Simple Request
By John R. Greenwood

It started with one simple request, "Honey, would you please change the aerator in the bathroom faucet?" 

This story could be the defining moment of my writing career. Having owned a home since I was barely twenty, the experiences I have logged would provide enough material for a 26 volume collection. People across the country can identify with stories that start with a similarly simple sentence. Volume #1 could be, "Trips to the ER and how they happen." Volume #2 could describe in detail the magic that happens when a husband is left alone in a hardware store with a fresh credit card. Volume #3 would tell the decade long tales of all those unfinished projects that sit stacked in the back of the garage--the original plan long forgotten. You get the idea. This simple photo tells a common story of man and wife-- it's complexities and how difficult it is to navigate through them intact. What began as a $3.98, three minute repair, has become a elongated transmutation requiring large amounts of cash, check books, credit cards, and taking the bottles back for the deposit. 

Well, I have to get back to work. I promised to have this project completed by our anniversary in June.

I promised to add this side note:
My beautiful wife having lived with me for many years is accustomed to simply, "Doing it herself." She is perfectly capable of changing an aerator and has on many occasions. In this case I may have embellished my story a tad bit, but the sentiment is perfectly sound. 

March 23, 2013

View From The Backyard

View From The Backyard
By John R. Greenwood

This is a story about going back home.

The Greenfield Town Hall 2013 
I was standing in the shadow of the Town Hall where I purchased my first hunting license and where my wife and I  filed our marriage license. That license has held up well for some 38 years. 

Today I was there to meet with Greenfield Town Historian, Ron Feulner.  We had talked on the phone a few days prior when Ron called to ask if I would contribute some family photos to a collection the Greenfield Historical Society was putting together. Ron ran across a few vintage photos of my mothers family farm I had posted online. He thought they would be a nice addition to the towns project.
The one time home of my aunt and uncle.
It is now the Town Community Center. 

My aunt and uncle, Ann and Steve Pasek, once owned the home that sits adjacent to the Town Hall. When the town purchased the home from my aunt and uncle they converted it into the town Community Center. My aunt and my mother Helen were sisters. When my sister Joanne and I were young  we lived in a small apartment on one side of the home for a short time. My family then moved two houses north on Rt.#9n where the Blodgetts now live.

My family home in Greenfield Center from 1957-1964 
Standing on the porch of one house you can see the front porch of the other. I lived there in the  center of the village for the first nine years of my life. In 1964 my parents purchased a larger home and land about one mile south of the village on Rt. #9n. 

In the years between 1955 and 1964 my life was spent in backyards up and down 9n, Wilton Rd, South Greenfield Rd, Grange Rd, and beyond. It is now some fifty years later and as I stood in the parking lot between the Community Center and the Greenfield Town Hall I was instantly transported back in time. It was as if I had been placed in a time machine and sent back to 196?. As I looked north I could see the Blodgett's house where I grew up; the place where I learned to ride my bike on the dirt path out front. That path once worn smooth from everyone's trips to the Greenfield General Store on the corner. 
Hodges Carpenter Shop 
From this spot I could see George Hodges carpenter shop. George Sr. was a friend of my fathers. He would let my father use his shop. I have a gun cabinet my father built there nights after work. I could smell the fresh saw dust. Mr. Hodges also had a greenhouse attached to the back of the shop. Standing there the smell of fresh tomato plants came back in a flash. The greenhouse was always brimming with plush green vegetables. The warm earth mustiness swelled my lungs. I could taste the freshness of those homegrown vegetables like it was yesterday. Looking southwest I could see the small field between the old Cline and Shay homes. The field where fall football games and summer softball games were played. I swear I could hear the sound of a home run being smacked into the high grass beyond the white fence that once graced the yards back edge.  

The one time Greenfield General Store
The center of this viewpoint was the building that used to be the Greenfield General Store. It  anchored the village for generations. It was the epicenter of all things small town and country. The line of Greenfield residents that have passed by that store with fond memories would stretch for miles. The stories of that store could fill a book and someday may. For now I will simply stand here and savor the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in a place that gave me a sense of place. 

Things change and time moves on whether we like it or not. It's sad but inevitable. Our ancestors faced it and now it is our turn to reminisce with fondness and sometimes sadness. But, for today, from this backyard where I stand, things look as they were. A vintage movie clip- click, click, clicking along. Image after image of a simpler time passes before my eyes.

I see boys on bikes headed for their cabin in the woods. I hear Shay's dog Shep barking at us as we leave. I catch a glimpse of our old tomcat Spooky who when we moved to our home a mile below the village would take off into the woods and return here to the center of town where his roots were. He came back where he could slink up and down the backyard stonewalls chasing unsuspecting field mice as they scurried in and out of the mossy rocks and slanted barn foundations. 

If I tilt my head I can hear mom calling me home for meatloaf and homegrown potatoes. I adjust the Ace of Diamonds in the spokes of my bike and pedal home, up the dirt path. 

Yes, life looked better from the backyard today. Thanks Greenfield for sharing your backyards, your generous *Paul Davis waves of hello, and most of all thanks for providing enough fond memories to last a lifetime. 

Your friend and neighbor,
John R. Greenwood

Paul Davis was my friend Randy's father. Paul's right to left hand waves were crisp and deliberate--hand slightly tilted,  fingers spread wide, they shouted, "Glad to see you" better than words ever could...    

March 18, 2013

Arbor Day At The Library

Arbor Day At The Library
By John R. Greenwood

I visited the quaint little village of Chatham N.Y. once before and it was on business. Today's return was not work related it was for pleasure, and it met the criteria in every category. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was on my way to the Chatham Public Library to attend a book event that was being presented by author Jon KatzFirst of all let me explain the title of this piece because to be accurate Arbor Day 2013 arrives on Friday April 26th. This was mid March, and there are no trees in the library. What I did discover just inside the beautiful oak doors was a small discreet plaque on the wall of the vestibule.

I have been known to pause and read the signs along the way. I stopped dead in my tracks when I read this one. The sign was brief and to the point. It said that the spreading red oak gracing the front walk out front was the oldest recorded Arbor Day Tree in New York State. It had been planted in commemoration of Arbor Day by the 1902 Class of the Chatham Central School. Since I walked right by it on my way in, I slowly turned and looked back out the antique window behind me. There in its leafless grandeur stood a piece of history. Had I not stopped and read the plaque, I surely would have missed the opportunity to learn about this historic red oak. The story of this majestic tree is yet another lesson learned, another sign, another slice of Americana slowly fading away. 

It's our responsibility to insure these small but important stories are not lost forever. Far too often we wait too long. We say someday. We procrastinate, sometimes for a lifetime. 

The photographs in this post begged for a black and white presentation. The story is stark in that we are sitting on a cliff of lost stories. Here in Chatham stands a grand old oak tree. It has stood guard over thousands of school children. Both tree and children chock full of colorful history and deep seated roots. Day after day young minds thirsty for knowledge pass by and stroke the rough bark of the oak that hovers above. These are the stories we should be telling. These are the lives we must celebrate. Those born in the years when Arbor Day was a more remarkable event need to be recognized and praised for their contribution. 
They would be well over a hundred years old today, but isn't it intriguing to think of the possibility that there could be a student of that 1902 class sitting in a room nearby waiting for a knock at the door. Waiting for a curious student from the Chatham community to be standing there in the doorway, pad and pen in hand, asking if they, "Remember the day?"

March 17, 2013

Don't Stop Turning The Pages

Don't Stop Turning The Pages
By John R. Greenwood

I was attending an event at the Chatham Public Library when this absorbing scene drew the attention of my camera. Rather than try to control the little cherub's fidgeting, mom got up from her seat and sat on the floor with her daughter. Mom handed her this lovely little book and cherub-child quietly entertained herself for the rest of author Jon Katz's talk on animals, books, and life on a farm called Bedlam. The vision also stirred a pinch of emotion. It was such a relaxing afternoon in a historic setting. It drew out my journal and pen as these signs of life tend to do for me. 

Here is the result:
Little fingers turn pages with gentle anticipation of what lies behind the cover. Our lives begin this way until voices from the airwaves around us begin to whisper fearful things. We must find a way to recapture the sweet naivety we once possessed. Why let it remain a memory? Be bold enough to step with some uncertainty. Think of those who came long before. What if their fear had kept them clinging to the rocky shores never to have seen the great country that lay to the west? What-if's are like poison. The bitterness that curls the tongue can linger for a lifetime. Don't settle because you're too afraid of the unknown.  Jump ahead, jump over, jump up, jump back if you need to reboot, but don't hesitate. Don't stand still. Don't stop turning the pages.   

March 16, 2013

Side Dish

Side Dish
By John R. Greenwood

The title is deceiving. But, since you're here, I will share the side dish. I have been on this journey I call, "Searching For  A Sign From "Clem." It has been an endless discovery of old friends, new friends, stories, pictures, and in general, a daily dose of adrenalin. All these side stories that have evolved along with the main tale are what I call side dishes. I will plate one up for you. 

I posted a story a while back (see it here) called the "The Last Sweater." It was a story about an unfinished baby sweater I found in an old trunk of my mothers. Shortly after posting that piece I received a wonderful email from a childhood friend living in Kansas City Missouri. Melissa said she had a sweater of her brothers that he wore when he was little. She was fairly certain it was my mother who knitted it. Our mothers were friends and I assume it was a gift or something my mother was asked to knit. The amazing part of this story is although my childhood friend and I live hundreds and hundreds of miles from each other and we haven't seen each other since the early sixties, her memories and mine entwined just long enough to make an emotional connection over something as simple as a hand knit sweater shared between our mothers. This was my intent with my journey looking for a sign. There are signs everywhere in our lives. We read into them what we either need or despise. Everyday we choose to either embrace them or ignore them. In this case my friend Melissa choose to embrace the sign and send me a photo that assured me that this world is still pure and full of loving and caring individuals who all seek the same destination. What we all need and want in the end is to be able to enjoy our lives free of hate and full of compassion. Not only does it make for a great story it brings a satisfaction to our lives that can't be bought off the shelf of a big blue store. 

March 15, 2013

Clem Arrives From California

Clem Arrives From California
By John R. Greenwood

Walter "Clem" Clements 
It was a quick flight, maybe only a few seconds long. Cyberspace is as large as it is small. A tone sounded as the email arrived via my mailbox. It was from Valerie. I met her through a local interest Facebook page. She left Saratoga Springs in 1979. As a young girl her mother and Clem were very close. After Valerie left Saratoga she remained in contact with Clem. She says she would send him letters, art work and simple gifts. She now lives in California and after learning of my search for a sign from Clem sent me a short note along with some photos. My heart picked up speed. It was Christmas in March and I was ready to tear off the bow. I read the letter twice. I wanted to prolong the excitement by dragging my feet. When your my age you savor gifts like these, because you never know when, or if, the next one will arrive. I scrolled down slowly and there he was. 

Not only was it Clem, it was Clem in all his regalia. His toolbox of paint and brushes, his trusty yardstick, and his hand painted "Clem Signs" hat atop his head. I was instantly transported back thirty years.I could hear his voice. I could feel his presence. I had indeed found a true sign and it's creator. 

I would like to thank my new friend from California. Valerie says there is much more to the story. She says she has some letters. The letters of another sign are being painted as we speak. 

March 13, 2013

Photo Mystery

Photo Mystery
By John R. Greenwood

Solved Unsolved Mystery
Being born in Saratoga Springs and growing up a few miles north in Greenfield Center has given me the privilege of having a lifetime worth of history sprinkled throughout them both. In my recent, "Search For A Sign From Clem," I have discovered family scrapbooks at the public library. I have reunited with high school friends, and made some new friends on the other side of the country. That was my hope when I began searching for signs. I never once believed it would be so intriguing. 

Here is another wonderful example. 

I had posted a link to a slideshow of family photos on a site called Greenfield Remembered. A comment appeared shortly after. A woman said one of the photos caught her attention. She was certain the women on the left was her mother Emily. Her mother Emily's family lived a short distance from my grandparents. She knew her mother was a friend of my aunt Millie. I knew the women on the right was my aunt but I never did know who the other woman was. Most of the photos my mother passed down had no names on the backs. I  loved this photo because of the sheer joy it exuded. There was such happiness in their faces. They were young and probably celebrating a special occasion. 

I needed to confirm the identity so I dug back through the family collection to see if I could find the photograph. I found the photo and turned it over. There as clear as a bell was confirmation that it was indeed her mother Emily and her friend Millie, my aunt. 

I began searching again-as I am prone to do. I figured if they were friends and neighbors, I might just uncover another photo of the two of them. As I carefully sorted through to the bottom of the pile, I recognized a couple of now recognizable faces. 

The photograph had lead me from Greenfield Center all the way back to Congress Park in Saratoga, and it all started with a little search for a sign from Clem...

View From A Sit-up

View From A Sit-up
By John R. Greenwood

January one 
One more year
The cost of Christmas cookies comes to collect
In the pre-dawn hours
Winter’s cruelest month
I lie breath-full and wish-less
All summers hard work 
Washed away in a sea of confection. 

I wrote this on New Year's Day, the same day I vowed to lose ? lbs. 
I must have put the truck in reverse? 

March 11, 2013

Follow Your Bliss

Follow Your Bliss
By John R. Greenwood

If you've been following my 'Search For A Sign From Clem,' you will understand this post a little better. Yesterday I posted a sign with Clem's classic signature. It was the most exciting discovery of this roller coaster journey to date. I have tried to explain the personal attachment to this story and why it drives me so. With every step I take another piece of the puzzle emerges. I just received an email from California. It provided one more chapter to this story. I will share more in the days ahead but for now I want to explain the photo of the card above. I purchased this card almost a year and a half ago at a bookstore where my writing mentor John Katz was doing a book signing. This was weeks before we met formally and months before I became a member of his Hubbard Hall Writing Project. After enjoying his book reading, I waited in line to have him sign a copy for me. I introduced myself and told him I had been following his work. I told I was beginning to write some memoirs and I was inspired by his life's journey as much as by his books. I asked him shyly if he would sign this card. He was very gracious and said of course he would. What you see below is what he wrote, "Follow Your Bliss." 

As I read the Joseph Campbell quote I felt as though I had just grabbed an electric fence. A charge ran through my body like something from a Spielberg movie. I looked him in the eye and thanked him for his generosity and headed for my car. I have not been the same since. I have written almost every day since that meeting. I have met dozens of inspiring and supportive people. My blog seems to have a dedicated following. I can't wait to post a story, photograph or poem. I am on a constant search for more. I am following my bliss off. Thank you Neale Donald Walsch, Jon Katz and Joseph Campbell, you guys share good advice. I'm not sure what I would have done without it. 

Oh, one more thing. You know that email I mentioned above. The one I received from California. It was from a former Saratogian. One who knew Clem well. One who promises to share some photos, stories, and maybe a letter or two. One very gracious and busy lady who just happens to be in the middle of writing class. A class called Joseph Campbell: "Myth and Spirit." 

 See you soon...

March 10, 2013

Clem Sighting On Broadway!

Clem Sighting On Broadway! 
By John R. Greenwood

Merle Norman meets Walter "Clem" Clements 
I am so excited I can barely type. A sign from Clem was discovered right on Broadway in Saratoga Springs just a few hours ago. But before I take one more step I need to thank two life long local residents for finding and sharing this lottery jackpot with me. The first is Rhea Gordon Demory. Rhea was a childhood friend from my hometown of Greenfield Center. The other is Saratoga native, Tom "Eagle-Eye" Brophy. I am familiar with Tom by name only but I can assure you he has earned my gratitude along with hero status on the 'Search For A Sign From Clem' Research Team. Both Rhea and Tom are aware of my quest. They happened to be standing on Broadway when Tom apparently looked up at the Merle Norman sign and noticed Clem's signature in the bottom right hand corner. A photo was taken by Rhea and posted on a Facebook page called "You might be from Saratoga if..." The page is dedicated to Saratoga natives. It is chock full of Saratoga memorabilia. It's also home for many sign searching assistants. After posting the photo, Rhea added a comment asking if I was paying attention. When I saw that small smudge in the corner of the sign I knew instantly what it was! 
Look closely at that bottom right hand corner! 
It's been right there watching over us for years and nobody paid a bit of attention to it. I even looked at this sign a few weeks ago when photographing the A's on the front door of the Adelphi. Why does this journey delight me so? The truest answer I can give is this; I have always yearned for something more out of life and for as far back as I can remember I have been searching for a sign guiding me to a destination that had no name. It didn't possess a map coordinate. There weren't any  directions in the box. I simply felt a pull to follow an unmarked path. There has been something drawing me to Clem's signs and signature. The voice is telling me that Clem too was searching for an unidentified destination but never quite found it. Was it an unfulfilled wish to be a fine artist? Is there an old dry sketch pad buried in the bottom of a trunk somewhere. Are the fragile pages filled with finely drawn scenes of Saratoga? Who knows? The joy I receive as I search for signs, real and imagined, comes from collecting friends, stories, ideas, and pure happiness along the way.

Is that beautiful or what! 
This particular specimen of Clem's signature is classic. I am determined to locate more jewels in the city. This journey is turning into something very special and having others join in was my long term goal. I never imagined things coming together like this. To all Saratogian's following my Clem adventure I thank you in advance for your help and kindness. This has been fun so far and for reasons unidentified, I believe this is just the beginning. 

This morning on my way to work it was still dark out. I could not wait for daylight to see Clem's sign in person. I parked in front of the store front and slowly walked up to it. As I stood there on Broadway and looked up and down both sides of the street I remembered seeing Walter Clements - Sign Painter in the early city directories. One of Clem's addresses was 376 Broadway which is the beautiful Arcade building just across the street. Ummm? 

You may want to stay tuned. I got this feeling...

March 08, 2013

Who Wrote This?

When the day begins to wind down and the sounds of life around you slope off to the wooded edge, step gently into the night. Lay your labored head down. Summon dreams of children playing in a circle, with a ball, a red one with specks of joy engrained.


March 07, 2013

Old Fox

Old Fox
By John R. Greenwood

My father's been gone awhile now and there aren't too many days that go by that I don't think of him in some way. It may be simply walking past a photo of him that causes an old story or memory to erupt in my head. He loved these license plates and the nickname that carried him through his sixties, seventies, and eighties. The Old Fox implied a well seasoned, and cunning story maker--yes, a story maker. He was one of those characters that instigated pranks and party tales, then sprinkled them with just enough color to make you want to stick around for the next one. There was the time he planted a tall tree in the sight line of a friends kitchen window. In the morning as the wife stood there filling the coffee pot she couldn't understand why the view she enjoyed every morning was suddenly obstructed? How could an eight foot pine tree appear overnight? 

He told me a story about the time he was at a local watering hole and things got a little competitive at the bar. The Old Fox bet some boisterous braggart that he could out pull Mr. Big Mouths V-8 pickup with his little four cylinder International Scout. That was all it took to proclaim, "Your On!" The next thing you know they're in the parking lot and my father is crawling underneath the back of the vehicles hooking up a set of his chains. So here they sit, tailgate to tailgate, chain taught, ready, set, go! The Old Fox never spun a tire. The pickup on the other hand was spitin' a rooster tail of dirt twenty feet in the air. When the dust settled, there sat Mr. Nowquiet at the other end of the parking lot where The Old Fox had deposited him. Mr. Nowquiet then headed inside to buy the bar a round as losing the bet required him to do. Years later my father explained how he never lost a bet with that old Scout. When he would hook the chain up, he would go over the bumper of the Scout and under the bumper of the other vehicle. Now, when they started pulling, the pressure of the chain would force his Scout down giving it more traction, and the other vehicle would be lifted up causing it to lose traction and just spin. It was such a simple thing and no one ever realized the difference-except The Old Fox.

These were just two small examples of the endless supply of stories that would overflow camping trips, fishing trips, and visits to the house. The main comparison between dad and the slyness of a fox was his quiet and extensive knowledge of the outdoors. His homemade trout spoons were prized acquisitions. His collection of topographical maps from every corner of the Adirondack's were all marked with notes identifying fishing hot spots and have-nots. He took great pride in his boat and gun racks he would build with left over scraps of aluminum from his job as a glazier. He loved sharing the hunting and fishing tips he had assembled over a life time of experiences. That was The Old Fox at his best, talking about and enjoying what he loved the most; being outdoors. I'm sure that's where he is right now. 

March 06, 2013

New Bike Smile

New Bike Smile
by John R. Greenwood

New Bike Smile x 3
There is nothing that brings a bigger smile to a child's face than a brand new bike. In fact there is nothing that brings a bigger smile to a father's face than handing over the reins of that bike to his child. This simple little scene proves my point. My job provides the opportunity to travel all over the area, and everyday signs of life greet me around ever corner. This was a 1950's moment in a 2013 world. I too smiled from ear to ear as I watched this Norman Rockwell moment unfold. I commented on what a beautiful bike she had there. Dad grinned and explained that it was a Christmas gift and he simply couldn't make her wait another day. Santa even left the new bike manual dangling from the seat. The most heartwarming part came when dad finished helping his daughter fill her bike tires with air. They both pivoted in unison to the front tire on dad's car and she proceeded to help him fill his tires. As I stood there absorbing the moment I politely asked dad if he would mind me capturing the father-daughter moment on my camera. He was kind enough to say yes. 

Yes, I do tend to lean a little nostalgic with these things sometimes but you will too someday. I constantly plead with the young fathers under my supervision to stop and savor these specks of gold along the way. At the time they may seem insignificant and hold up getting that delivery off the truck, but one day in the not so distant future they will see them differently. Hopefully they will cherish them for what they are. They are bits and pieces of life that we can't get back. You have to grasp them tight when they occur. There are hundreds of things that will vie for your attention over your lifetime. Be cautious. Don't let the media, public opinion, or your peers influence how you see the world. See it through your eyes. Sometimes you need to ease off on the throttle a little bit to insure you don't miss what's happening right before your eyes. When was the last time you enjoyed that New Bike Smile?   

March 03, 2013

Will Work For Coffee Cake

Will Work For Coffee Cake
By John R. Greenwood

Yes, it's true, I will accept bribes. I am not ashamed to admit it. I have an achilles heel when it comes to being 'encouraged' to attack some of the projects I have postponing for far too long. There's something inspirational about the smell of fresh baked coffee cake wafting through the house on a snowy Sunday in March. My broken promises caught up to me and I now had to man-up. It's not that I don't enjoy home repairs, because as long as it doesn't involve 22o volts of electricity I am well enough equipped to handle most day to day issues that pop up or leak out. Today's project began with some small demo work; mostly tearing out, nailing down, and cleaning up. My reward for this effort was a cup of hot coffee, and a square of warm, apple filled, cinnamon covered coffee cake. If you top that by timing it with the start of CBS Sunday Morning, you complete the weekend circle of life. 

March 02, 2013

Happiness Is A State Of Mind

Happiness Is A State Of Mind
By John R. Greenwood

"Happiness is a state of mind."
At least that's what the t-shirt said.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to be present at the premier of the movie Small Apartments this evening. The book and the screenplay were both written by Saratoga's own Chris Millis. The venue of tonight's showing was the  Saratoga Music Hall which is on the third floor of Saratoga's historic City Hall. The location was the crown jewel of the night. Chris is a  graduate of Saratoga High and the room was packed with classmates, teachers, family, and friends. It could not have been a more intimate setting to showcase such a celebratory event.

Now about the movie...

If you watch the trailer before 
you see the movie you will automatically establish some preconceived notions about it. 

My advice to anyone reading this piece is to watch and read all the trailers, clips, 
interviews, and reviews you want, but don't pass judgement before buying your popcorn. Open your mind as wide as the trunk of 70's Pinto and go see this movie. Put your big glasses on, dial in on the characters, open your ears, and pay attention. There are a lot of big things in Small Apartments. It swells with emotion, ideas, dreams, sadness, and pain. In the end they all seem to come together just like the lovely evening did for my wife and I. 

The characters, dialog, and colorful grossness of this movie will sometimes have you muttering, "Aw Geez", but when the dust settled I found the underlying theme of the movie to be just what the doctor ordered. I savored the end result as much as any movie I've seen. The difference here was, Small Apartments was shade or two darker.

I won't go into more detail about the movie, I will leave that for the critics and reporters. My piece is more about sharing a special night. Experiencing life's simple pleasures, like attending a $7.00 movie premier with your lovely wife in a vintage setting surrounded by hundreds of people all cheering for the success of one of their own. I do want to thank Bob Millis, Chris's uncle. Had Bob not sent me an invitation I probably would have missed the opportunity to walk out of Small Apartments smiling and with one of the two signed movie posters raffled off at the end of the movie. 

Yes, today was a good day. 
After all, "Happiness Is A State Of Mind."