October 30, 2013

Support Team

Support Team 
By John R. Greenwood

Ann Marie, Betty, Shirley, Helen (My Mother), Pauline
Growing up in the rural community of Greenfield Center, NY. provided a wealth of supporting influences in my life. I happened across this photo recently and I began to think of the effect the people in my community played on my life. I do not know the gentlemen behind these Greenfield Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary members but I do know each one of the women. I grew up with their children, played in their backyards, visited their homes, and drew life-long lessons from them. Some like my mother have passed. All remain large factors in their children’s lives regardless. Wherever they are I thank them all for the part they played in my youth and in my life in general. I’ve had many wonderful people in my life and I think we draw a little bit of something from each one of them. 

Times have changed in many ways. The sense of community is not what it used to be. People are trying to revive it, but with our mobile society they have an uphill battle ahead. I am glad I was able to grow up at a time when firehalls were brimming with wedding receptions, fundraisers, and New Year’s dances. My wedding reception was in the firehall where this photo was taken. I can remember it as though it were yesterday. (Read about that here: Close Your Eyes). 

I felt an obligation to acknowledge these women for their role in my life. Things were less scary then. There was always a mother peeking out the window just to make sure the gang of kids weren’t stomping through her flower garden or spraying the cat with the garden hose. Mothers didn’t have to obsess about stranger-dangers. They were more worried about being sure you waited thirty minutes before you went back into the neighbors pool. It was a good time to be a kid. 

As I look back I see a variety of things that played a positive role in my life. I had committed Boy Scout leaders, watchful neighbors, caring relatives, and a wealth of friendships and experiences growing up in a small town. I think of it as my own Mayberry with dozens of Aunt Bee’s, Goober’s and Andy Taylors. How fortunate I was. How grateful I am. 

October 27, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

I spent most of my Saturday installing a new door on the side of my house. No, it's not the most interesting subject for a blog post but it does have some significance. In life we are always closing a door on one part of our lives and opening the door of another. One thing I have noticed and written about is how important it is to keep a positive attitude regarding those ins and outs. I keep wanting to expand my writing but I am constantly having to balance my want-life with my work-life. Just because you love to write doesn't mean you can write. To hone the skill you need to practice and practice equals time. Time for me, and for you, is a precious commodity.

The next best thing to practice is to keep motivated by exposing myself to anything related to writing. That is why I purchased a ticket to hear Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo at Skidmore College's Filene Recital Hall. $20 bought you a seat and Richard's newest book 'Elsewhere'. It's a memoir of his life which began in his hometown of Gloversville, NY. The book centers on the intricate relationship he had with his mother and the hometown he tried so hard to escape. I can't write a review of a book I've yet to read but I can tell you by the time the evening at Filene had ended, I was real anxious to read it. Richard set the tone of the book by emphasizing his genuine love of 'home and place'. It came through loud and clear as he talked of the various influences his hometown played in his writing career. 

Richard Russo 
I have also found that with everything I am drawn to, there is some connection to my youth. Much of it has to do with the various characters that drifted through. Some of it has to do with the values those characters instilled in me. I unlike Richard have stayed close to my roots. Not so much because of want as much as need. Richard's education pulled him and his family to Arizona, Maine and many places in between.  I on the other hand stayed where I could make a living without the benefit of higher learning. In many ways I think that gave me a much stronger education in life's basics; survival and appreciation of the simpler joys in life. 

One thing that Richard spoke about really stuck with me. He said in the beginning he thought he would have to completely cut ties with the past to become a 'worldly' writer. He said in the end everything he accomplished went back to where he came from. Sometimes you close a door behind you only to return. Life is funny that way. 

The evening was sponsored by the Skidmore College English Department in collaboration with the Northshire Book Store of Saratoga Springs. Saratoga Springs Public Library Director Issac Pulver was the evenings skilled and well read moderator. It was a packed house and at the close of the presentation they showed their appreciation with resounding applause. 

I always look at these little hunks of life as doors or opportunities, never knowing what's in store or at stake. I often think of what I would have missed in the last half dozen years had I sat at the kitchen table and wondered, "What if?"

Oh yeah, "The Door"
Life continues to amaze and entertain me. Doors continue to show up in my path. I always open them with fervor and optimism. I never completely close the one behind me. I chose instead to leave them slightly cracked and secured with a loose doorstop that can be easily be kicked to the side leaving me to decide whether or not I want to go back or forward. 

October 24, 2013

Lobster Pot

Lobster Pot 
By John R. Greenwood

Cape Cod tradition teases the senses 
a butter dipped morsel
grasps with reddened claw
each sneaker clad diner 
as they stand patiently waiting
for that deep sea treasure 
so succulent and eager to please

This was one of those memorable vacation treats you weren't expecting but turned into one of the highlights. We were staying in Hyannis on our Cape Cod getaway. We'd gotten up early to head out the National Seashore at the tip of the Cape. We didn't have much of a breakfast so by the time we arrived in Provincetown it was noon, and we were hungry. After debating over whether we wanted to get a quick hotdog or sandwich we ended up in front of a place called appropriately enough the Lobster Pot. It was colorful on the outside but when you looked inside you really couldn't see much. 

Something strange pulled me to the door. 

I left my wife standing on the sidewalk and I went inside the door. At that point there was no line. I asked the nice lady at the register if I could take a quick peek back at the dining room. The building was narrow and it appeared to go for miles back toward the beach. It looked pleasant and inviting. It was buzzing but not crammed. I quickly went back outside and grabbed my wife's hand. I said, "Trust me. There's something about this place that says come on in we'd love to have you." 

It's rare that I'm that confident in my decision making. She said, "Sure, let's try it." 

I'm glad she agreed because we ended up having a wonderful meal. The service was as good as the meal. A simple lunch turned into a memorable experience and it made the day a lot more special.

October 23, 2013

Eyesight For $75

Eyesight For $75
By John R. Greenwood

I’m having my eyesight restored today for $75. That’s a pretty good deal wouldn’t you say? 

Yes, I’m positioned on that section of life’s timeline when cataracts surface and blurred vision can cloud your outlook on the world. When I played back yesterday’s message on my machine letting me know the time of today’s surgery they also informed me that the copay would be $75. When I thought about all the negativity being thrown at our president I felt an obligation to speak out about what having health insurance means to me. 

Today it meant seeing the smile on my wife’s face as she held our three month old grandson. It was savoring the beauty of one finite, high definition moment. Isn’t that brief flash of time alone worth $75? 

That’s my point. 

If I were to add up 2013’s memorable moments that I would have missed without my eyesight it would total well over, let’s say, $Pri,cel,ess.00. 

How can you possibly put a price on vision? I think our society needs to reevaluate our outlook. Don’t we all deserve to be able to see our grandchildren blowing bubbles and cooing as they kick their little feet with the fuzzy red striped socks? Who’s job is it to say I deserve that joy more than the guy who doesn’t have the luxury of health insurance? As an able bodied adult male who’s experienced much more good in my life than bad I am willing to step up to the plate and pay it forward for the family who hasn't had as much good fortune. This isn’t a debate for or against my president’s effort to insure everyone in my America it’s about looking at the greater good. I won’t pretend to understand all the complexities of this new program but I do understand one thing very clearly. I am willing to do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. I will take that chance versus being so selfish and afraid of the consequences, that I would spread fear about how terrible it’s going to be and how it is going to destroy our nation. Living in a world where we say one thing and do another is not living. Abuse of any system is a given. We will have to deal with that as it comes. I for one am looking far beyond myself at a world where everyone will enjoy the opportunity to have their eyesight restored for $75. Heck, I probably would have paid $80 or even $100 to see the Superbowl in New Jersey this year! 

October 22, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

This piece is about people not pickets. When I took this photograph early one Saturday morning it was the light that drew my attention. I knew at some point down the road I would be glad I took the time to capture its simplicity. Because blogging has become such a large part of my life I am always looking for interesting scenes or storylines. Mostly they show up on my doorstep. This one was there waiting to be uncovered. What I see in this picture is not a line of pickets but a group of people. They are you and me lined up and waiting for the next stage, the next step. Some of them bask in full sunlight. Some in the back corners wait for the sun (life) to shift and light their faces. In the course of the last several years I have been a picket in some stage of sunlight enjoying ever changing views on the world as it spins around me. In those years I have been through enormous difficulty and extraordinary happiness. Many times it was in the same week; sometimes in the same day, or even hour. That is what Raining Iguanas is about. It's about the sun in your face. It's about the sun on your back. It's about the people around you that spread that sunshine. It's about their stories and their lives as they intertwine with mine. It's about change. Raining Iguanas is a sense of relationships as they affect you. I hope as people read and join in they spread that affect on to others. I have seen it happening over and over already. There is no greater joy than to have someone relate to something you've written. To hear the words, "Your story reminded me of..." is a wonderful experience that gives joy far beyond the accolades of dollars and cents. It can be the rainiest, gloomiest day and I can stumble upon someone writing about how much they enjoyed spending the day in the woods or on a riverbank. The ability to grab sunshine whenever we need it is why I love the cyber-world. Yes, it has it's tragic and horrific side, but we have choices. We can choose to live on that set of tracks or we can change trains. Pickets and people are similar. We gain strength in numbers. From a distance we all look the the same. When you look close or from an angle we begin to change in appearance. We may be starting to peel and weather a little more than our neighbor. We might have a better view of the forrest from where we stand. We might be the pickets chosen to be photographed and sent flying through space to the far reaches of the world via the internet. Whichever picket you are or whatever stage of life you're at stick together with the picket next to you. Stand tall and look straight ahead. You won't have to wait long, the sun comes back every twenty-four hours. Leave the sunglasses home. 

October 21, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

Old Sturbridge Village 
Vintage wares of days past stand waiting as they have for years. The light of day barely illuminating what's in store. As I inventoried each shelf and traveled back to early America, I felt a closeness to our founding mothers. Those who waited days on weeks and well into years for returning explorers of the land to our west. Those who raised the next generation. Those who cured the sick and buried their children. Those vintage souls with spirits the size of the country they embraced. Shelves of history each with another tale of non-adventure and faith. Each step closer brings the past into focus and places the vision of the future out of reach. 

October 20, 2013

Hope and Fate

Hope and Fate 
By John R. Greenwood 

Hope shows up every morning at the scale. Fate shows up unexpectedly when the mood strikes. Hope is a lottery ticket. Fate is winning when the rent's due and the refrigerator's hungry. Hope is a dream, Fate a reality. Hope brings people together. Fate keeps the rain at bay and the sun open for business. Hope is what you want it to be, Fate is what you need. Hope is forever. Fate is at the moment. It is my hope that life continues to surprise and amaze. Fate assures me it's cocked and ready to do both. 

As I walked the beach one autumn morning a voice was drawing me to the tip of a distant breakwater. Alone in the world with October breezes following me outward I bent my head slowly and the rocks spoke to me. They said,"Hope is here for you, cling to it gently. Don't wish for more, it isn't necessary. Sometimes a little hope is all you need. Hope is generic. It needs no label or bold introduction."

The rocks spoke volumes and had more to say. They expressed an opinion on Fate. They had much to say on the subject. They looked me square in the eye and said,"Fate is by your side for as long as necessary. Fate won't betray you because it always has one more day to make things right."  

Fishing For Color

Fishing For Color
By John R. Greenwood

Color gives me life. I need it in my blog and in my day. If you have been here before you will see that color filters through everything. Color helps me breathe. It also infuses me with a vibrancy that helps keep my mind looking up not down. I am not a photography purist. I enjoy toying with my pictures to get the 'most' out of them. My pictures are more about the subject than the craft. Someday I will learn the craft in depth. That will be another off road adventure for me.  For now I will remain poised in high saturation and sharp contrast. I will cast a line at daybreak and reel in a stringer full of inspiration at dusk. Life is better in HD. Fishing anyone? 

Fishing For Color 
whether by light of autumn sunset
or shadows beneath the bay
color paints my living space
burnt umber veined plank
or pastel watercolor upon the speckled trout
life soars when viewed 
with kaleidoscope eyes

October 18, 2013

With Open Arms

With Open Arms
By John R. Greenwood

With open arms a child came running 
It caught the corner of my eye
Love reached out in all directions and hugged the world 
Pure joy in sneakers exploded on a cobbled street
Such is life when tuned in fine
These breathtaking glimpses 
so fleeting 
pass us by

October 17, 2013

Sturbridge Pit Stop

Sturbridge Pit Stop
By John R. Greenwood

For the last two years on our way home from Cape Cod we left early enough to stop for a few hours at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge Mass. Sturbridge Village is a definite must see if you have an interest in America's early years. It is a stunning place that provides a relaxing and educational opportunity for people of all ages. It's close enough for a wonderful day trip and would make a great weekend getaway. I thought I would post a few of the photos I took along with some prose they inspired. There's still time to get out there to check it out. Here is a link to their website: Sturbridge Village.

living free among the post and rail
separated only by time
there is something dear
about staking a claim on the past
never ending work
fueled a man's need 

for a place
to call home

Simple Life
uncluttered existence
mahogany hard
pine stained
emitting extravagance
of a eighteenth century nature
bold and daring
sitting quietly
of the days
centuries ahead

Window Dressing
linen arms spread wide
in October's morning light
an empty dress lay waiting
an autumn day beckons

"Come share the joy with me" 

Stark Beauty
high above the picket
I peer out across our nations past
it's journey tender to the touch
no longer can we take her for granted
our children's eyes
deserve it's beauty
from this vista
ever more

October 16, 2013


by John R. Greenwood

Breathe ocean air so clear 
you see the other side

my dear the view you make
since days we walked the parks at night

hands held in darkness
hands held in light

we've traveled many days as one
no other in our vastness sees

another journey lays ahead
we breathe together in love

Husband Bags A Bag

Husband Bags A Bag
By John R. Greenwood

This is a simple story about those under the radar vacation events that when added up make them fond memories. This story was bagged out on Nantucket as we waited for our return ferry ride to Hyannis. Mrs. G and I had accumulated an assortment of items during our daylong visit. I did have a backpack but it wasn’t close to being big enough to stuff our collection in. As we sat there on a bench in the center of all those sweatshirt and gift shops I could sense Mrs. G’s mind in motion. She brought those thoughts to the surface with a simple request, “Would you do me a favor?” she asked. “Of course.” I said. I was pretty sure this was going to involve a purchase. “Would you go in that shop right there and see if there’s still a big yellow bag hanging from the rafters? I think it was the only one they had left. See if it’s still there and how much they want for it. Everything is 20% off.” 

We’ve were married in 1974. I was pretty sure those words meant don’t come back empty handed.

 I knew this thing was not going to be cheap even at 20% off. After all it was marked up 75% to begin with. I sauntered to the doorway and peered in. Mrs. G. is on to me. She knew I was hoping it was gone. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on who you ask, it was still hanging there proudly, just waiting for somebody to take her home. I looked up hoping to see an unacceptable imperfection to use as an excuse to leave her there until next summer. I scanned her over carefully. It was a big yellow beauty. I was growing attached. 

After the last customer left I asked the girl behind the counter how much the big yellow bag was. She said,”I think it’s $99. With 20% off it would be about $80.” Whoa, I said to my inner self. On the outside my face must have said, “You’ve got to be kidding?” Then, from the sky above (or from behind a tall shelf), I heard a man’s voice say, “You can have it for $60.” 

I summoned my inner Mike Wolfe of American Picker’s fame. I could hear Mike saying, “Make me feel like I’m gettin’ a deal.” I ‘stood tall’ as he would say and spewed out “Howbout $50?” 

The mystery voice countered, “Cash?”
I responded, “Ring her up!” 

It was classic Mike Wolfe. He would’ve high five’d me and cackled that annoying laugh. I was as proud as Darrell Sheets on Storage Wars when he scores a $50 dresser in a $1200 locker. Let’s just say it was a good day on the bargain finder circuit. 

I handed over the cash (no receipt) and strutted out the door. Mrs. G. was sitting there waiting. When she saw the bag in my hand she lit up like the day she met me. When I told her how the deal went down and what I paid, she was putty in my arms. 
Yes, it was a good day on the island, a very good day. 

October 15, 2013

Art Is...

Art Is...
by John R. Greenwood

Coffee Table Creation
Art is driving me crazy. It's hard to explain-but not really. There are more of me out there. People who have a creative curse that haunts them all hours of the day. I can't quench it. Even when I do for a short time it comes roaring back even stronger. One minute I want to write about something and the next minute I have my camera in my hand looking for some 'different' perspective. A few minutes later I run across someone's painting or carving and I want a taste of that. I'm like the kid who keeps racing down the midway wanting to ride every ride all at once. I'm looking all the time and it's making me nuts. I don't know how to control it. Maybe I shouldn't try. Maybe I am best to let barking dogs bark and see what happens tomorrow. The problem wouldn't seem so critical if this was the early 1970's and I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but it's 2013 and I want to squeeze another 50 into the next 10. The problem is time management. There are still many have-to's that need to be prioritized. I need direction but I don't know where I'm going so I don't know what coordinates to put into the Garmin. I'm left spinning in the middle of the driveway. I'll figure it out. That's half the fun.

Metal Fish Cut-Out high atop a fishing charter sign on Nantucket 

October 14, 2013

Life In A Blender

Life In A Blender
By John R. Greenwood

Mrs. G and I just returned from a mini vacation in Cape Cod. We spent a day in Nantucket, one in and  around Hyannis, and one out in Provincetown. 

Bare with me. I'm tired and my mind is fading. Before I call it a day I felt a need to share my thoughts on how I think our government should fix this mess they've created. 

They should put them all on a big bus and send them out to Provincetown for a weekend. When they arrive they should get out a $1.00 composition book, a sharp pencil, and begin taking notes. They should also take pictures and listen to what's going on out there. 

Provincetown is a never ending sea of acceptance and cooperation. People from every walk of life, from every corner of the world, of every age, shape, and design all working together, playing together, and living together. Even the damn dogs get along with each other. At every smile and life filled intersection people were enjoying the diversity and color of the world around them. Cars mixing with pedestrians, grey haired people mixing with purple haired people, even the ocean and the sky work well together out there.  I was amazed at the calm that pervaded every corner of that town. It's simple. It's the willingness to accept each other's differences that make Provincetown special. 

You can't argue with what works. Here you have this tiny little spec of a town with thousands of people squished into it. The streets are jammed but clean as a whistle. People there are as comfortable talking with a complete stranger as they are their own families. Yes, at first it might be a bit of an adjustment for an upstate country boy but it only takes a half a block to see just how easy things can work when everyone is pushing the cart together. I don't want to oversimplify whats going on in Washington but if they really meant what they said when they were trying to get elected things would get fixed a lot quicker. 

So all you politicians out there; get your bags packed there's a place you ought to visit.  

Thanks Cape Cod

Thanks Cape Cod
By John R. Greenwood

Thank you to all the captains who guided us safely around The Cape this weekend. Thank you to all who cleaned our rooms, served us lunch, and poured us fresh hot coffee. Thank you T-shirt shop owners and ice cream sellers. Thank you Massachusetts for a nice time away from the chores of work and home. In four short days you provided a months worth of stories and photographs that I hope to share in the days ahead. This simple little sign says it all. A vacation experience of many pieces and parts all assembled in a chowder of delicious proportions. Thank you very much Cape Cod. We will be back again soon...

October 13, 2013

Bay Spirit Tours

Bay Spirit Tours
By John R. Greenwood

On day three of our 'Hyannis Getaway'
Mrs. G and I booked a short harbor tour aboard the Bay Spirit. Our hosts were Captain Bob and his son and Co-Captain Jacob Kohl. Together the two made a great team and greeted the small group of tourists with welcome arms. If you’re looking for a $20 bargain on Cape Cod this is it. The boat was clean and welcoming. That’s important because we aren’t the most adventurous tourists to ever hit the beach. 

To the best of our ability we try to be sure of what we’re getting ourselves into. 

Captain / Manager Jacob Kohl 
Bob and Jacob did a good job from the beginning by being polite and informative. Even though the afternoon turned a light shade of grey and a knot or two windier than we had hoped for, Bob and Jacob added a little sunshine to the day and a pleasant memory to our five day Hyannis holiday. 

Captain Bob Kohl 

Toward the end of the tour Bob, a seasoned fisherman, provided a short presentation on fishing in the Hyannis area. He added some history and even a ‘show and tell’ of the various types of seafood that are caught and consumed here. 

These are the simple experiences that my wife and I enjoy. They aren’t once in a lifetime European vacations but to us they are relaxing breaks in the action that we look forward to so much. In these times of a, “Just hand over your cash and move on” world, this was a nice change. There were no sales pitches other than, “Thank you for joining us.” We were glad we did. 

Hyannis Harbor 

October 11, 2013

Bikes At Rest

Bikes At Rest
By John R. Greenwood

leaning wheels resting
dabbing color against the sea
a youthful feel stands shyly off camera
wanting desperately to join them 
when they return and ride away


by John R. Greenwood

As the miles between home and destination add up and the scenery changes from familiar to vaguely my pulse rate eases off the throttle and my mind drifts to distance places far off shore. Arriving at our destination brings with it a sense of remoteness and satisfaction. Never having been a traveler of consequence, three hundred miles might just as well be a thousand, and any fresh vantage point an uncharted isle. Every corner of my peripheral is constantly scanning from dusk to dawn, from shore to sky. After a week of last minute preparation and cash transfers the journey began. We all have our own opinion of what constitutes a vacation or a getaway. For Mrs. G and I it leans more toward getaway, although the primary definition of getaway means escape or quick departure after committing a crime. I hardly think taking up two parking spaces at CVS constitutes true crime. In the end informal vacation suits most of our getaways to a tee. Our autumn adventure found us in a second floor suite with a busy view of Hyannis Harbor. Nothing fancy but the ultimate in convenient. I snapped the picture above as our day came to an end and the hopes of a rainless Friday was at the top of our wish list. See you in Nantucket.

October 06, 2013

A Leaf Fell

A Leaf Fell
By John R. Greenwood

A leaf fell today. I watched it float to the ground. I stopped and waited for one more. Another leaf, another tree, one more drifting, sailing victim drops gently in the distance. 
Where did the summer go?

I waited patiently through January, February, and March. Spring arrived and immediately began to show off with her lush lawns and boisterous azaleas. Flower smells and mower sounds filled the air. Neighborhoods were filled with renewed energy and picnic dreams. Memorial Day paraded by, followed by the cheers of the 2013 graduating class. July 4th shot through the night sky with a bang. Charcoal grills were a hot item and children swam in glee. August brought day trips and breakfast at the track. Labor Day bullied its way to the front of the line. 

Then a leaf fell and when it did others followed. They piled on top of one another like children wrestling in the playground grass. They seemed to be shouting out their last blast of the season by bursting into flames of red, calm yellows, and stubborn greens. 

Oh, the joy of one leaf, one season, one more day. 

 My submission to this weeks: Poetry Pantry #170.