April 30, 2013

Sunday Go To Meetin'

Sunday Go To Meetin'
By John R. Greenwood

We met on this beautiful Sunday afternoon in the 'Studio' behind Hubbard Hall in Cambridge NY. My writing friends, Jon, Rachel, Diane, Jen, Kim, and Rebecca were excited to get together and talk about our upcoming presentation in May. Our blogs will be the topic and one of the questions our mentor Jon Katz wanted us to ask ourselves was, "What have you gotten out of writing a blog?" 

I can honestly say that writing this blog has literally changed my life. It has enriched my life. It has given me life. 

It isn't about content or quality. It isn't about self promotion, or even the posts themselves. The most rewarding part of writing the blog, is simply that I mustered the courage to do it at all. It's about the people that I've met through writing it. It's about the things that I've learned. It's about the journey it has become. I now have a venue where I can exercise my artistic muscles and stretch my creative mind. I am no kid. I only wish that I had pushed more boundaries when I was young. Don't we all? It has been a life lesson that I have learned in the third quarter. I am grateful for the life I've had thus far. I am childlike in my outlook for the future. I am weary of the nay sayer's, whiners and moaners. I embrace those who jump up not down. This group of writers placed at my doorstep by Jon Katz and Hubbard Hall has infused me with something that can't be bought at any price. Very simply it's a common thread. It's knowing what I want out of life and what I yearn for is the same thing that Diane, Kim, Jen, Rebecca, Rachel, and Jon seek. It's something more. More than a new car or a tropical vacation. More than possessions or accolades. What we all want is the freedom to spread our wings, open our horizons, and quench that artistic spirit that infects our hearts. Writing a blog has given me courage, courage to open up and let the world in. When you do that, all the good things it has to share will come with it. 

You can never experience happiness if you keep talking yourself out of it. It seems to be the popular thing to do. You hear voices saying things like, "Oh, I could never do that." or "I'd like to try that someday." What I have found is; that 'someday' never comes. You have to go grab it by the handle and jump on board. Don't miss the opportunity. Don't take that chance. Sometimes, 'someday', is today. 

April 28, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

It began so simply. A few posts back I kidded about what initiated this bathroom project/remodel in the first place. I explained how it was ignited by the need to replace the aerator in the faucet. I embellished a wee bit there. To be honest all I planned to do was put down a new floor. A week later the sink, toilet, walls, and floor were history and I was up to my tool belt in a full blown renovation. What I did here took a few weeks and a little more money than planned but in the end it was one of my more satisfying and in depth projects. You learn over a lifetime that it helps to have the right tools and the knowledge to use them. I lack profusely in the latter, but I now have 'YouTube'-the teacher, at my finger tips. But by far the best asset in today's tool box arsenal is 'Google'. I have found that taking your time to research your plans helps immensely. My biggest problem is patience, followed by lack of time. Every homeowner will agree that no matter what project you tackle, it ends up taking at least  thriceruple as long as you planned. That applies to the dollars and cents too. You can also end up with a vast assortment of plumbing part$ left over. (*Helpful Tip) It has taken me forty years to realize that you get what you pay for and that spending the extra money for a better quality anything, is usually money well spent. It can be a difficult balance when you are working with a tight budget. In the end, when the last nail is set and the paint is still tacky, there is no better satisfaction than completing a home renovation project. I have taken on some doozies over the years, from clogged, deeply buried septic lines to electrical box widow-makers. 

Each season, each year, brings a new adventure to the project list. Some have resulted in ER stitches and even expensive dental work. I will leave those stories for another day. For now I am exhausted and the clock says its time to get to bed. The job that pays the bills has me setting the alarm for 5am. 

Good Luck & Happy Renovations! 

April 24, 2013

Barn Banter

Barn Banter
By John R. Greenwood

Pssst... Boots, did you hear about....
Did you hear about goat's problems with the IRS? 

No. What happened, didn't he pay his taxes? 

I'm not sure. I heard the mice whispering about it. They said goat claimed he had four kids and he only has three left in the barn. One moved out last year to start a herd of his own. 

Yes, I heard that too, but I guess things didn't work out so he moved back home.

The government doesn't care. They want their money. 
Things were more giddy down in the sty. The three little pigs got wind that someone was bringing them a new blanket. I didn't let on but I saw it, and it's lovely. They will look delicious in it. 

Sad about chicken's 401k. The whole barn told her not to put all her eggs in one basket.

I spread my investments out. You know- milk, butter, cheese, things like that. 
Lately all the buzz is about this Greek yogurt. What do Greeks know about yogurt? I hope it's just a phase. 
And by the way, is it true they sell eggs in a milk carton now? What's up with that? I remember when I was a calf..

Alright cow, that's enough kit chat, I mean chit cat. Oh, you know what I mean, you're a cow. 

April 22, 2013

Spring Fervor

Spring Fervor
By John R. Greenwood
Happiness is quenching 'Spring Fervor'.
Spring brings out a sense of renewal. It dwarfs New Year's resolutions by a mile. Today a spring fervor grabbed me by the hiking boot straps, pulled me up out of bed, and tossed my pathetic fanny out the back door. I, like most people, have been putting off the inevitable weight loss commitment since January 2nd. It's far too easy to make excuses during the drab and dreary months of February and March. Today was a beauty and April fresh breezes were calling. I needed to step in some mud and tilt my head skyward. My spring fervor was cranked. My camera was charged. My son Kevin was willing. More importantly, I needed blog material. Off we headed to Moreau Lake State Park. 

This park possesses everything you could possibility need in a park. From hiking to family camping and all things outdoors, this gem has them. We decided to try a new trail. It looked straight forward (upward) on the map. We agreed to give it a shot and if it was more than we bargained for we would simply do a U'y and head back down the mountain. We told our wives we would only be gone for a couple of hours. 

"Go on ahead kid, I'll be there in an hour."
Well as we crawled the last
hundred feet to the top (we thought) we got that Lewis and Clark urge to continue on. We figured we had gotten this far, it would be crazy not to go a wee bit further to the place on the map where they place a big star indicating a view of breath taking proportions. 

Spier Falls Dam 

We trekked onward. In the next half mile we crossed paths with five women, three dogs, and one man, all of whom appeared as though they had just gotten out of their vehicles. One of the dogs was jumping around like he had just been let out the back door. I was about three seconds from needing an air lift. 

We arrived at our destination feeling satisfied with our first spring jaunt. My legs were a little shaky and my heart was pounding like a jackhammer but my spring fervor was quenched and thoughts of the upcoming work week were much more palatable. 

The hike down melted away the pain and discomfort. The camera enjoyed a good meal and was eager to share its bounty. My new hiking shoes were singing a song, and life was looking a spring hike better thanks to Moreau Lake State Park and the Spier Falls Dam. 

"Time Out!"

Fervor is described as an intense and passionate feeling. I think today hit the mark. 
I felt spring fervor was a better description of my state of mind than spring fever until I pulled up the definition of fever; an abnormally high body temperature, usually accompanied by shivering, headache, and in severe instances, delirium. 

As I thought about it, maybe fever would have been a better choice? 

April 20, 2013

Re-Deconstruction Progression

Re-Deconstruction Progression 
By Rip Itout


A simple request not so simple
         an impatient man with no solid plan and dangerous tools 

  One step closer today 
one more project tip toeing to the end
homeowner so-so happy
never satisfied
a teaser photo here
posted for fun
for fun came in fourth and out of the money


The finale may come 
with the fireflies 
of summer

April 19, 2013

We've Become Too Accustomed

We’ve Become Too Accustomed
By John R. Greenwood 

I seem to have lost something this week. I can’t muster up a post or a thought. The news from Boston, Texas, and Washington has taken over and placed my simple life far down the priority list. Work squeezed my sleep pattern and left me trying to determine whether my exhaustion was physical or mental. Everyone reading this probably feels the same way. I am being stretched in many directions and it makes going in the right one a challenge. For today I will think of those affected by all the insanity swirling around us. I will do my best to keep informed without being consumed like a fragile home in a midwest tornado. Even though we my be far removed from the current situations unfolding in Massachusetts and Texas they still hurt and disturb us. We want to help and ease the pain of our fellow Americans but most of us will simply watch in some state of disbelief. 

As I wrote the paragraph above the news coming out of Boston was focused on a tarp wrapped boat in the backyard of a home in Watertown, Ma. Soon the news that a suspect was in custody ended a week long nightmare. Crowds roared and sirens blared. Freedom had come to a pain ravaged neighborhood. I watched the news all day and in the end I find it hard to believe what I am seeing. I find it hard to keep my thoughts straight. I feel like we are on a runaway train and the faster it goes the harder it becomes to see life along the way. The tracks will level out as they always do. The train will coast to a stop. We will once again be able to step off onto the platform of life. Life will return to normal for most. It will never return to normal for many of the people from Boston and West Texas. It was a painful week. It was a strange day. The crazy American part of it is; I spent the majority of it installing a new bathroom vanity. We ended the day in an Italian restaurant. That’s what we Americans do. We cringe and cry alongside our suffering neighbors-- then we make dinner plans. We have become too accustomed...

April 14, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

Pssst, pssst, hey mister, wouldn't you like a dog? 
I am being dogged wherever I go. Dogs everywhere are watching my every move. Around every corner I find another pathetic pooch staring me in the eye. My wife and I are presently dog and cat-hair free. We have enjoyed many pets over the years but at the moment we have chosen not to take on another pet. We both work full time and for the first time since starting a family we have no other responsibilities other than ourselves. We do talk about getting another dog, we just aren't ready right now. That being said, it seems like everywhere I turn I am being stalked by some sad-eyed bundle of fur. 

This gorgeous hunk of canine was waiting patiently for his driver to return and took it upon himself to plead his case for dogdom. If I could have squeezed him out that window he would be curled up at my feet right now.  Please don't add to my dilemma by deluging me with pro-dog propaganda. I already know why I want a dog, why I need a dog, and what joy a dog brings to the table. We simply know right now is not a good time for us. It wouldn't be fair or smart of us to get a pet of any kind if we aren't ready. I have done that before. Remember this story

April 13, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

If you read my previous post you know that while in the middle of a recent home repair I let fatigue and frustration get the best of me. The unflattering result was a grown man hissy-fit. I returned to the work site Friday night in a more positive frame of mind. I was determined to get a head-start on my  weekend project. I changed my flooring choice and I'm glad I did. I decided to use a product I was familiar with. The best part was; I already had enough material left over from my last project to do this one. I gave myself a little pep talk and started in. Immediately I knew I made the right choice. After putting down a few pieces of flooring, I realized how much better this was going to be. That leads to another life lesson. If you happen to cross paths with a grizzly, back away slowly and find a new route. That proved to be the best choice here and after a couple hours of foul-mouth free construction, the out come was noticeable. Ask any man who works on his own home and he will tell you. It's not that we don't want to tackle these projects, it's that experience assures us that at some point along the way things are going to go awry. Mistakes will be made and we will be  forced to hide the fact that we don't know how to do everything. I know that's a shocker to hear but it's true. So as I cleaned up my Friday night mess I stopped to reflect on my progress. I realized you're never too old to learn how to improve, not just your home, but also yourself. 

Happy Home Improvement! 

April 11, 2013

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son
By The Son

This 1957 photograph of my father and me sitting on the front steps of my grandparents home is one of my favorites. It came to mind last night as I struggled with my bathroom remodeling project. It had been a long day at work and if I was smart I would have stayed away from power tools and measuring tapes. It seemed to be going a little too smooth, which is my first clue to prepare myself. If there is one thing I have learned in my decades of home repairs, it's that nothing ever goes as planned. Those DIY shows only add to the frustration when they squeeze a six month remodel into a 30 minute show and make you look like a floundering klutz. No, I didn't cause any property damage or physical injury but I did lose my composure and bad words were spewed. I do not like myself when I lose that battle. I didn't like my father when he did either. Last night's episode was nothing atrocious but it did muster a comment from the room down the hall. "Please stop! You sound just like our fathers. I hated it then and I hate it now." 

I continued briefly and then I stopped and looked in the mirror. I had lost my cool and don't like myself when I do. My wife was right, I was that person I swore I would never be. But, I know I'm not alone. There aren't too many homeowners out there who attempt home repairs on their own who haven't been down that ugly path. 

I have mixed emotions when I am accused of being just like my father. When it comes to work ethic, sense of humor, resemblance, and loyalty to friends, I am honored. When short temper, with regard to uncooperative home repair projects, is pointed out, I shrug it off as a, "That's not possible," scenario. But, it was true. Although I had assured myself I could do better, and that I should have learned from experience that losing your temper is ugly, I still lost control. I am not proud of myself when it happens. After all, I am human. I am just like my father. 

April 08, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

There are few things in this world that provide the same level of comfort as being surrounded by a supportive group of friends. When our Hubbard Hall Writing Group met recently at Bedlam Farm I realized how fortunate I have been to be a part of this group. We came together last summer and we have been growing ever since. I feel like "Lenore the Love Dog" in this photo. Lenore is Jon Katz and Maria Wulf's lab and her comfortable pose is exactly the way I felt as our group sat at the huge farm table and enjoyed a delicious afternoon meal of fresh made pizza. 
Bedlam Farm - Where they grow writers and enrich lives.
As we went around the table sharing our individual ideas about our May 31st reception and reading at the Freight Depot Theater/Gallery I had a deep feeling of contentment. Lenore seems to be in the same frame of mind. When lunch was over Jon and Red herded us to a hill high above the farm for a group photo. The exhilarating view could only be surpassed by our excitement about the future.  

April 06, 2013

Creative Sparks And Itches

Creative Sparks and Itches
By John R. Greenwood

Creativity is beneath my skin like an itch you get from spring cleanup in the yard. It starts on the front of your left forearm and by the time the day has come to an end you're scratching the meat off your right shin. Creativity seems to invade every aspect of my life. I look at each stage from different points. Sometimes life appears as a spinning globe tossing off images as they circle by. When viewing the labors of a fine artist my envy levels spike and my eyes hurt from desire and want. The want of more talent, more time. It's an uncontrollable scratch that consumes my space like a heavy mist. The mist that refreshes your dry face, then dampens your shirt, which turns it into a search for sunshine and warm breezes. 

If this makes sense, you have the disease of creativity and the desire to absorb it, spread it, gulp it, savor it. I have no choice but to grasp it by the hand-strap and see where it takes me. It's a ride that's keeps youth running through my veins and old age an 'fu' side note. My attempts to describe creativity and the sparks that spew from its center are a runaway train that makes you want to jump on and off like a John Wayne western. One minute you're riding along side a steam choking iron horse. You jump on before the approaching tunnel. You exit the darkness with a bag full of bounty and jump from the runaway train as it rolls down the mountainside-brakes squealing all the way. 

Creativity wakes me at 3am and places a pen in my hand. It lurks around corners whispering promises of fulfillment-if I stay just one more day. The promise never kept. The thirst never thoroughly quenched. 

Scratch the creative itch. Light the fire. Dance and let the creative sparks fly. Don't try to corral it. Don't send it to the lab for analysis. Bring it back to our schools, put it back in your life. 

Teach it, preach it, spread it. But what ever you do, don't ignore it. I promise you, it's not going away. 

April 03, 2013

The First Step

The First Step
By John R. Greenwood

Life is a climb. Step by step we rise up from one place to another. It may take a lifetime of steps to realize a dream. This blog is the story of an average man reaching a point in his life where grey hair and bones that make noise are just speed bumps on the road to a fulfilling life. I recently had an opportunity to visit the building that my aunt and uncle used to call their home. When they retired many years ago the small town where I grew up purchased the home and converted the back half into a community center. The front of the home and its rooms have been closed off and used for storage. I had been visiting the town hall next door and I stopped at the community center and asked if I could look through the front half of the house. As I slowly opened a set of doors at the bottom of these stairs I was instantly transported back in time. It had been almost 40 years since I had walked up these steps. The stairway once immaculately maintained was now worn and tired. Knowing what a meticulous housekeeper my aunt had been it broke my heart to see them this way. Even in this condition they possessed a certain regality. Left neglected and sealed off from the world the front of the home emitted a sadness I couldn't shake. Although I am glad to see the home being used to serve the people of the town that surrounds it, I couldn't help but wish better things for it's future. I am hopeful that one day there will be enough funds available for the town to restore the remainder of the home to its original beauty. I envision a mini-museum of a 1950's home, furnished to the time period, complete with vintage photos, music, and wallpaper. 

These stairs are similar to the stairs of my life. Each step has a story. You travel up and down them day after day reliving and reviving events and memories. Each journey up and each journey down creates a life. How we embrace that life is up to the individual. I have chosen to share these steps in stories and photographs. I do it because it satisfies a craving. 

If you ignore those cravings and wait for another day or another opportunity it may never come. My suggestion is to open those doors at the bottom of the stairs and start climbing, you'll never know what's at the top if you don't take the first step. 

April 01, 2013

Creative Whites

Creative Whites
By John R. Greenwood

"It's your white to create" -jrg

Creative Whites

we all have the white to be creative 
to explore the boundaries of individual spirit
when we confine ourselves to one way thinking 
life begins to 
erspec tiv e

btu wehn ew mxi ti pu
that creative spark ignites 
life looks better
tastes better
trees are greener
frogs 2
it's your white
run with it

*Turn your laptop 90 degrees to see an animal stall at the Columbia County Fairground