December 28, 2014

De-Lighting Christmas

De-lighting Christmas
By John R. Greenwood

Christmas in reverse tastes bittersweet as temperatures tempt me outside to de-light and de-decorate the holiday. Time travels quickly pre-Santa but slows to a frozen crawl when Times Square signals a calendar change. Holiday cheer comes at you like a freight train and leaves you at the station leaning 
out over the tracks, head tilted, wondering what just happened and how many days has it been since you added water to the tree. Does it even matter now? It’s universal and carries a mix of emotion; empty wallet regret versus the realization that spring is next in line. When the Christmas lights come down you know the Superbowl is close behind and CVS will soon be unpacking the Valentine's Day cards. There are so many holidays now they meld together like a bag of sun baked Hershey bars. 

I tote up the lights and pack them away in the back of the shed. Dampness sets in and my mind smells hot coffee and the NFL. With Christmas #59 in the books I smile inside. I think of all the other husbands and fathers who no matter how much they might complain about the hanging and unhanging of lights and decorations can't wait to flip that switch to kick off Christmas #6 or #60. 

I've been wanting to add a voice recording to some of my posts to see what kind of reaction they might generate. 

Here's a Sound Cloud Recording of: De-Lighting Christmas

December 27, 2014

Year End

Year End
By John R. Greenwood

It’s 5am Friday the morning after Christmas and there’s still a day left in the work week. I, like everyone reading this, am pretty well wiped out by the hustle and bustle that led into the holiday. 2014 is approaching the exit ramp and my mirror clearly displays the face of a tired man with the aches and pains of one who’s been “rode hard and put away wet”. 

2014 delivered more good than bad and it did it faster than any other twelve month span in the fifty eight years that preceded it. Time really does fly, even though I have yet to. Maybe 2015 will bring a change to that statistic. As I sit here in semi-darkness listening to the quiet and preparing my mind for another day on the job I can’t help but write about gratitude and what the last six decades has blessed me with. I’ve experienced a ton of things on my watch including: observing man’s first steps on the moon, the day Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot, the birth of the internet, seeing the Beatles first gig on Ed Sullivan, and the advent of phones that take pictures. A lot has happened from the fifties to the fifteens and I got to see it all including a Boston World Series and a few Redskin Superbowl's. 

Even with all that on my resume I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what life has to offer. Obviously my family is the biggest accomplishment of my life but more recently I find that my reflections take a u-turn and send me off to think about what’s next, what’s left? My passion for creating something to share is as vibrant as ever, even if the sit-on-the-couch default switch remains a frequent choice. I quickly blame years of physical labor and teenage boys for that energy void. 

It’s now 6am and a hot shower and shave are next, followed by several hours at work toning my skills as a professional “shit fixer”. I’ll come home and take the trash out, catch the last case of Judge Judy, plop on the couch with a laptop placed where it belongs and start looking for another less traveled path to wander down. I probably won’t find a cure for cancer, invent Velcro, or write a, “To Kill A Mocking Bird” clone but whatever I do I will do it with gratitude. I will always end up there no matter what 2014 or 2015 hands me. I am here for the moment while others are not. I should be further ahead but I'm not behind. I am however, grateful for where I am. 

It may be another year-end but they’re always followed by a fresh one. Let’s call 2015 the year of, “Common Sense,” and hope the world plays along. I watch the news and repeat the phrase, “The world has gone nuts.” I am hopeful for the return of, “Think before you speak,” and, “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes.” 

At work today we were talking about Christmas gifts and I mentioned that my wife had given me Norman Lear’s book, “Even This I Get To Experience.” My twenty-something boss looked at me with question-mark eyes. “Norman Lear, All In The Family” I responded. Another blank stare. I panicked. “Archie Bunker, Carroll O”Conner!” I said, confident that would be the switch that turned the light on? “Nope, never heard of any of them.” My shoulders slumped and my heart began to ache. I had outlived Archie Bunker and yet I felt like the world was right back where we started. I had to calm myself down by taking a deep breath and a sip of coffee. I mustered a comeback for the man/kid who never heard of Archie Bunker, and I let him have it, right between the ears, “I’ve never watched a full episode of, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, ‘South Park’, or more than 45 seconds of ‘Two Broke Girls’ ever.”  

Silence filled the office. 

Thanks 2014, look out 2015 here I come...

December 19, 2014


By John R. Greenwood

A simple December scene plays out across the world. A tender moment captured with the wink of an eye. A child’s bravery tested within reach of his mother’s protective arms. Santa has arrived in full regalia, smiling, laughing, larger than life itself. A child sees through Santa’s glow a sleigh brimmed with toys wrapped in reds and greens and topped with silver bows. His world condensed into one short moment, one tall man with a beard and a hearty tone. Tis’ the season built for the joy of child-gifts and grownup hopes, for peace on earth and goodwill toward men. 

Santanticipation is a wonder we carry through life. It’s an ageless feeling about never letting go of the what-ifs or the if-only’s. One small boy reminded me of that feeling at this pre-Christmas breakfast with Santa generously hosted by the Saratoga Knights of Columbus. 

To all who find themselves here I thank you for your friendship and readership, your supportive comments and faithful visits. This blog was a gift to myself several years ago. It’s a place to give and receive gifts of words. Priceless gifts that provide comfort and joy-- hopefully in two directions. 

So gather up your Santanticipation and fill your sleigh, I see snowflakes falling outside the picture window. 

I guess it’s time...

December 13, 2014


By John R. Greenwood

Do you believe in Miracles?

I do. 

Last night after the snowplows had made their last swipe through the neighborhood; after the budget conscious homes had shut off their neatly hung Christmas lights; after the late news had taken one more swing at scaring Aunt Thelma into thinking she might run out of bread and milk; after the alarm clock was set and my head dropped to the pillow like a bowling ball; I finally dozed off. 

Long after midnight I awoke to the sound of jingle bells. They were barely audible but their identity was unmistakable. My first reaction wasn’t one of questioning the source but more simply; “Why is Santa here two weeks early?” I threw back the quilt, swung my legs around, and pulled back the curtain. It was snowing those big heavy kleenex size flakes that are so heavy you can hear them dropping on the hood of the car. The motion-light on the side of the garage was on and illuminating the yard like a broadway stage. I could still hear the bells but they were fading high in the snow-filled air. 

Then I looked down.

There in the blanketed yard next to the garage was a set of sleigh-width parallel lines, large V-shaped tracks and a huge four-foot long set of antlers. Now, I’ve run across some pretty unbelievable things in my life, but this took my breath away. Here I was a splinter away from ancient and I’d just had my closest Santa encounter ever. The funny part is I didn’t feel all that surprised about almost seeing Santa and a reindeer, I was more consumed by why he stopped by so early? Was he doing a test run? Maybe Mrs. Claus ran out of milk? My mind went in one-hundred directions until I remembered one thing; there was a set of reindeer antlers in my yard as proof that Santa really does exist! I needed to get out there grab the antlers and get a picture of the sleigh and reindeer tracks just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. 

I yanked on my pants and grabbed a sweatshirt from the hook on the back of the door. As I bent over to pick up my boots I lost my balance and fell headlong into the closet smashing my head on the door casing. I went out like I’d just taken a Mike Tyson shot to the chin. I ended up in a heap like a coiled lab in front of a warm stove. 

The next thing I remember is waking up to my wife gently shaking my shoulder saying, “John, are you okay? You fell and hit your head. What happened?” 

I shook out the cobwebs, looked around to make sure Mike was gone and climbed back up to the edge of the bed. I don’t know how long I was out but there was no blood and no bump. My head didn’t hurt one bit. It was very strange. My wife looked at me like she usually does when I tell her, "I have an idea!” She had that, “Now what?” look. As I began to tell her about the bells and the tracks I realized I hadn’t gotten the pictures or the proof yet! I slid into my all-weather slippers and ran to the door like a kid running down the hall Christmas morning. I didn’t have a second to waste so instead of getting my camera from the other room I just grabbed my phone from the table in the hall. “I’ll just use this.", I muttered to myself.

I burst out the back door and my jaw dropped. 

There must have been another half-foot of snow on the ground since my semi-Santa sighting. The tracks were all gone. There wasn’t even an indentation in the snow. I stood there with slumped shoulders and snow-filled slippers. I looked up at the backdoor to see my wife shake her head, turn around and walk back into the darkness. 

But wait!

There poking out from snow at the edge of the garage was the tiniest tip of an antler. I shuffled over to it, bent over and gently pulled on it. There in a backyard in northeast New York a kid with grey hair and a pounding heart pulled out the most majestic set of reindeer antlers you’ve ever seen. They had a golden hue and were the size of Texas. I've seen pictures of reindeer with beautiful antlers but none of them possessed the trophy-like quality of the ones I had in my hand. 

I snapped the picture below as undisputed proof that Santa Claus does exist and that he stopped by my backyard two weeks before Christmas. I Googled reindeer antlers and sure enough they do shed them every year. The strange part is they usually last until after Christmas. Just like me, Santa's reindeer must be having trouble keeping track of time. 

It's okay though because I might have missed this picture in February.

"Happy Holidays" everyone. 

May all 'your' Christmas miracles come true! 

December 09, 2014

The Wait

The Wait
By John R. Greenwood

It's a day off from work and I'm at a car dealership. I have a slow leak in a brand new tire they installed just weeks ago. I check my watch as I hand the tech my keys. How long could it possibly take to repair? I should know better than to ask that question. It will take as long as humanly possible. It will take one minute more than my patience or man-mind will permit.
 It will cost fifty dollars more than I've allowed for. 

That's the way my world works.

I sit down in the lobby among the shiny new 2015's as they tease me with that 'look at me' smirk on their grills. I ignore them and continue to type this piece. I wait for that unnerving voice to say "Mr. Greenwood, we have some bad news." The minute I complete the thought, I hear footsteps approaching with the clarity of a surgeon. 

Here it comes. 

"Mr. Greenwood, can I talk to you? We found the problem. It's not the tire, your tire is healthy and full of life. Your wheel needs a 'Fit Kit'".

And all this time I thought my wheels were fit as a fiddle.  

The story goes that the wheels of today with all their knowledge and ability to sensor low air pressure depend on one tiny robust 'O' ring to keep them fit. Therein lies the problem. My wheel's low air sensor 'O' ring was dry and in disrepair. It would require a ten-spot and another thirty minutes of patience. 

We'll see, we"ll see...

My gut is rarely outsmarted. Today was an exception. We'll call it a draw. In the end my wait was less than an hour---kids stuff in the auto repair stratosphere. The bill was less than fifty bucks. The repair is simple but the tire has to be removed and remounted. It's in a man's DNA to mistrust anyone but a blood relative when it comes to a car repair. We want a dirt cheap price with blue ribbon service. 
I guess when all was said and done it was a reasonable deal.

We take for granted the freedom todays vehicles provide us. They are moving apartments with all the same comforts: dual temperature zones, Dolby Surround Sound, electronic lumbar support. A few decades ago I was peddling milk in a vintage GMC stepvan who's heating system was a kerosene heater glowing like a nuclear reactor on the passenger side floor. Talk about "Driving Miss Crazy". 

In the end the visit to the dealership was speed bump and not a Pike's Peak Hill Climb. My heart and my tires were full and ready to tackle the days next challenge; finishing  the Christmas lights. 

Maybe I should have waited and had them change the oil?

December 08, 2014

She Knows

She Knows
By John R. Greenwood

She knows one trip is never enough for me. She knows the man she married will be back. He will forget his phone. He will forget his lunch. She knows after forty years of the same routine he will be back for something. Sometimes she smiles lovingly and cracks open the back door, “What is it today?” It’s turned into a wife’s early morning roll of the dice, “To Lock or Not To Lock”. It’s cold outside, there’s more to forget: gloves, a hat, an extra sleeve of Cinnamon Pop Tarts. She calculates the odds on her 'how many times has he done that before' husband-computer. 

Today I mog back to the house one more time, head face down, to get my prox-card. I reach for the handle with the same anticipation as scraping a $2.00 scratch-off. 

It's open.

I smile.

I hear the weather forecast as it drifts from the bedroom. I pause briefly waiting for a sarcastic comment about my absent-mindedness to follow, but it there is none. 

"Thank you for leaving the door open, I forgot my prox-card." 

"I know Honey." 

"It's on the counter." 

December 05, 2014


By John R. Greenwood

I'm writing this piece on my new cell phone. After waiting several years for a phone upgrade at work I decided to wave the white flag and go off into the brave new world on my own. I'm now the proud new father of an iPhone 6+. I promised myself that I would use it to give my writing a little kick. I thought having easy access to all things creative might give me that spark to keep moving. I know it sounds like Jr. trying to convince mom and dad that buying him a car will save them from having to cart him back and forth to football practice, and it is--just like that. 

I am the king of justification. I need a new skill saw so I can cut straighter lines. I need a motorcycle so I can save on gas. As a society we do it automatically and we've gotten very good at it. Why else would we have wall sized flat screens that make you feel like you're at the drive-in. In general we're simply spoiled. 

I'll tell you my intention is to boost productivity. 

We'll see after I try that app that makes your voice sound like Bugs Bunny.

I'm going to make a conscious effort not to let myself turn into one of those 
neck-bent, zombie-like, oblivious to the escaped mountain lion headed my way individuals, but after thirty minutes on this puppy I think I might be in trouble. It's addictive and even exhilarating, especially when all I have to do is type "exh" and exhilarating pops up to fill the blank spaces of my brain.

I'm conflicted when it comes to technology and progress. On one hand I like simplicity and the good old days; on the other I love being able to explore the world while sitting on the couch with my feet on the coffee table. I know I would survive just fine without a search engine, but I don't want to. I feel empowered with Wikipedia at my fingertips. I've  YouTube'd my way through a handful of plumbing projects and Pandora'd myself to sleep more times than I can count, but I can also sit all day on a tree stump with nothing but a peanut butter sandwich and a cheap notebook listening to a mouthy squirrel and be as content as a monk on vacation.

I'm going to use MyPhone for good not evil. I will do my best to stay motivated and creative. I may look like a slug sitting here with my little-big phone rooting for America's Team to lose against Da Bears but I am really toning my Steinbeck and texting skills all at the same time.

So there it is, my first piece written on a phone while eating a slice of pie and watching Thursday Night Football.

Isn't it great?

And I haven't even tried the camera yet!

Look out world...     

Sent from my iPhone

December 01, 2014


By John R. Greenwood

Out of the blue a boy takes a stand. His fingers shake with independence ready to take on the world. His shadow over taken by the stature of his will and sixteen months of letting others call the shots. He has decided to shift from baby to boy without asking permission. Would it have helped to say no? 

November 29, 2014

Hubbard Hall Writers

Hubbard Hall Writers 
By John R. Greenwood

I will lead this piece with a sincere thank you to my beautiful wife who is not pictured here. She was at home baking my favorite apple pie and making homemade meatballs and sauce while I was visiting with three members of the original Hubbard Hall Writer’s Group. I am a very lucky man. My wife realized how strong my passion for writing was a few years ago. I’d filled out an application for membership to a writing class hosted by Hubbard Hall and led by author Jon Katz. My wife encouraged me to follow my dream. She understood my need to find a venue to express my creativity and test my writing skills. Without her support I never would have had the courage to pursue that dream. The writing class was supposed to last a few weeks during the summer of 2012. Those classes ended for us but the friendship and support of our group is alive and well more than two years later. 

Today our group gathered in Southern Vermont at the home of Rachel Barlow. Rachel’s blog, “Picking My Battles” is an artist’s portrayal of real life with a twist. It all happens in an intimate Vermont setting but Rachel's posts are a reflection of life in homes across the country. 

Hubbard Hall Writer Kim Gifford was seated on the thick leather sofa with a open laptop checking out Rachel’s latest work when I arrived for our Sunday afternoon meeting. Kim’s blog, “Pugs & Pics” is a eclectic collection of posts with Kim’s love of pugs as the primary theme. She also creates stunning collages layered with emotion and beauty.

The last member to arrive was Diane Fiore. Diane’s blog, “Mergansers Crossing” is an inspirational collection of stories about yesterday and today. Diane began documenting the adventures she experienced with her father after he’d been diagnosed with dementia. She found writing about it was therapeutic and began a blog so she could share her stories. Soon others who had family members with Alzheimer's were looking to Diane’s blog to help them cope with the challenges of the disease. She has cultivated a supportive following that grows stronger with each post. 

These friends and fellow bloggers were an amateur writers dream team. Their genuine support was instrumental in building my confidence which in turn allowed me to grow beyond what I ever expected the day I placed that Hubbard Hall application in the mailbox.

The theme of this post is about friendship and support. I found them both at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, New York. I consider myself an artist in search of an art. Although I enjoy writing and sharing stories I’m not yet sure writing is the final stop for me. I love all types of visual arts. I love all types of music. I basically enjoy creativity in any format, style, or venue. I don’t think you can truly enjoy your life without it. I want to thank those who have helped me along the way. Jon Katz and his blog Bedlam Farm injected me with an enthusiasm for the future and the undiscovered. Hubbard Hall gave me the opportunity to grow and the place to do it. I am grateful to all those mentioned above for their presence in my life. 

November 27, 2014

Faces of Thanksgiving

Faces of Thanksgiving 
By John R. Greenwood

I am thankful to be here to enjoy the faces around me; the faces of family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else who passes me during the day. That is what I'm most thankful for today. 

Faces are the beginning, they are where happiness begins. It starts off with that first look in the mirror. I might not be thrilled with the quality of what I see in the mirror in the morning but the fact that there is someone there is pretty significant on the "Thank You" scale. 

The next face I see is the one I'm most thankful for; it's the face of the person who loves me most. She vowed to love me through thick and thin and she's kept her word. She feeds me, clothes me, and keeps me out of harms way. She encourages my good decisions and discourages my bad ones. She lifts me when I need it most and reminds me of things when it's important that I not forget. I am thankful God made her hand fit mine so well.

The next faces I see are in photographs; photographs of sons, their wives, and the grandsons they have gifted to the world. Those cherished faces show up on walls, in albums, and out in cyber-space where you can find them posted for the world. I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy those faces with the click of a mouse or the push of a cell phone button. Those are the faces that swell my head with pride and fill my heart with love. 

The next face I am thankful for belongs to my sister. She is the one who placed music in my heart and artistry in my soul. She taught me lessons that many people never learn. She taught me about survival and endurance in a world that doesn't always play fair. She is my personal hero and I am thankful beyond words for her. 

I am thankful for the parents who created my face and I miss them. They provided volumes of fond memories that sustain me. They gave me a sense of humor that I use to survive. They taught me right from wrong. They emphasized common sense, good manners, and the value of a "Please and Thank You". They laid the foundation that enables me to enjoy my life and all the faces that fill it. They made mistakes, but they also told me to learn from my mistakes, so I did. I learned from theirs and mine. I am thankful that I listened to that advice most. 

I am thankful for the faces I see Monday through Friday- the ones that work by my side. They show up everyday so they can pay their mortgages and support the faces in their homes. The camaraderie and our common goals lift me and will keep me showing up long after my time comes. Work has defined much of my life. Work has enabled me to meet some of the most beautiful faces in the world. Beauty in the form of honesty, integrity, ambition, and energy. Faces full of character and strength. 

I have known hundreds of faces that overflowed with compassion for faces of people they have never have met. I am thankful for the faces of all the fundraisers and volunteers I have known. 

We should all be thankful for the faces in uniform; the bravest of the brave, the faces of the men and women who put them in foreign countries defending our freedom, the faces who show up in fire trucks, ambulances and police cruisers. Uniformed faces are out there right now fighting danger while we watch our football games and eat onion dip in warm homes. 

We all have different faces to be thankful for today, so take a minute and call them and tell them. The face you bring a smile to may spread to others. 

Happy Thanksgiving to my entire family. 

You gave me a "happy-face" today. 

November 23, 2014

Child's Play

Child’s Play
By Grandpa
John R. Greenwood 

his laugh is audible joy 
a gift

a constant motion 
bouncing from place to place
idle for a few short seconds
then off again he goes
and goes
and goes

a little boy left the baby behind
growing taller 
with every tic
every toc

smiling from his father’s arms 
his head bobs from little boy exhaustion
his father’s father absorbs the scene 
deep into his heart 
savoring moments
cherishing fatherhood
wanting to go back for more
and more

November 22, 2014

Saturday Morning Discovery

Saturday Morning Discovery
By John R. Greenwood

"The Cave In The Mountain" -1894
It was a typical Saturday morning about eight o’clock and I was putting the finishing touches on a replacement window I installed earlier in the summer. I never finished trimming it out and this morning seemed just right for that adventure. These are the simple projects that I enjoy but procrastinate over until my guilt grabs me by the nape of the neck and gives me a little shake. I always say it’s not the project that I hate it’s the set-up and clean-up. I also tend to be easily distracted by shiny objects, or as was the case today, an old vintage book on the bookshelf that was next to the naked replacement window I orphaned back in late June. 

What I noticed as I was wiping caulk from my forehead was an old book my grandfather had given me in 1963 when I was eight. I was still standing on the stepladder with the caulking gun tucked under one arm when I reached over to the top shelf of the bookcase and pulled out the 1894 book. The title was, “The Cave In The Mountain” by Lieutenant R. H. Jayne, or so I thought. Google politely informed me as I was taking my first coffee break, just ten minutes into my project, was that Lieutenant R. H. Jayne’s real name was Edward Sylvester Ellis. Ellis wrote under dozens of pseudonyms including Lieutenant R.H. Jayne. He was one of the more successful writers of dime novels during the 1800’s. It is said that one of his books, “Seth Jones” was one of President Lincoln’s favorite stories. 

What fascinated me was what was inside the front cover of the 120-year-old book. It’s there where I find that the book was a gift to my grandfather in 1913 for his 14th birthday. He gave me the book in 1963, fifty years later. I remember staying overnight at my grandparents this particular night. He gave me the book the next day while I was helping him with some chores around the house. I was in my Hardy Boy’s book reading years back then. My grandfather’s, “Cave In The Mountain” was his 1914 version of my 1963 Hardy Boys Mysteries. I’m sure he handed me that book with fond memories of his boyhood swirling in his head. I hadn’t opened it in years. It brought back find memories of time spent with my grandfather. I now had three grandson’s of my own and it made me look at that inscription through a much different set of eyes. The number of years was enough to give you pause but what inspired me to grab my laptop and starting writing about it was the speed at which those years between being a grandson to being that grandfather had taken place. 

I read through the list of guests that attended my grandfather's 14th birthday and realized that all of them are surely gone. I still live and work within thirty minutes  of where that party took place so it’s likely I’ve driven by the homes where they grew up or by the cemeteries where they’ve been laid to rest. What an experience it would be if I could go back to that birthday party with my camera and notebook and start putting it all down on paper. 

Here are attendees of my grandfather's 14th birthday party on June 4, 1913:

Muriel Davis, Alma Kilmer, Bertha Hopkins, Helen Ten Eyck, Jeanette Fonda, Katherine Davis, Vivian Lathers, Frank Sweet, Ralph Kurlbaum, LeRoy Kurlbaum, Jay Rhodes, Clifford Cudney, Ralph HumGurr Ten Eyck, Elmer Greenwood (my grandfather).

I opened the book once more, randomly, right in the middle, and the passage to the left caught my eye and my emotions. 

“The world was void:

The populous and powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless;
A lump of death, a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes and ocean, all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths.” 

I read it over and over and suddenly I realized I was watching a current version of the evening news. The fighting, the violence, the pain of poverty and despair was being sensationalized for profit. The world is, was, and will be used for lots of the wrong things and few of the good things. I’d gotten all this from one little re-visit to an old book given to a young boy once, twice and maybe more to follow. The world is becoming a lifeless stone and we must revive it’s vitality. We don’t need to go back to heyday’s or the good-ole-days, we need to recreate the good-new-days, the I-can’t wait-to-get-moving days. We need to grab books from shelves with one hand, caulk windows with the other, and figure out that life is about doing both things at the same time and doing it with vigor and purpose. 

Yes, I did complete trimming out the window and for some reason the view seemed to have a crisper feel to it. It had to do with the added bonus it provided me on this otherwise uneventful morning in November. 

That's the way it should be. 

Life should show up whenever it feels like it, but you have to be paying attention so you don't miss it.  

November 16, 2014

Last Gasp

Last Gasp
By John R. Greenwood

I began using the words "last gasp" several months ago when I was struggling and needed to get back on track. When you run a set of tracks that's fractions wide it's easy to run off them at any little dip or sag in the road.  It's funny how we roller coaster through life never really getting to that oasis where everything is within reach. How boring life would be--I guess is the right answer. We would have zero appreciation for what we had. It would only take a few days before we were traveling to the edge of the oasis with our binoculars looking off to the horizon in search of a larger more inviting oasis. 

This time the excruciating pain was the motivator and the inhibitor all at the same time. My hobbling had become unattractive and distracting. For every ugly limp across a parking lot my zest for life got soggier and soggier. Some days I wake up swinging for the fences and some days I hide my face from my wife who's sympathy wanes with each passing pity party I invite her to attend. Some mornings I am full of fight but those have diminished greatly. Working in a world where the silver topped men are rare I sometimes peer around door casings to see if my desk is still there. I reflect back through the past decade and life has been fulfilling on many levels. I am happy but it now appears I am at another crossroads where there are tough decisions to make. Will I fight through this latest obstacle or will I relinquish, grabbing a cane and dropping backward into a recliner? Being a victim comes easily to my personality so I must grasp those boot straps tightly. A day or three is easy, a week is challenging, a month almost impossible but when I look at the timeline it's shrinking, and the clock ticks louder--the pendulum swings faster. 

Motivation is key right now. With the summer of 2014 now another picture album and with its Fall, falling as I write, I realize the urgency of my plight. I tap away at these keys hoping to find the right mix to move me, encourage me, push me. How much simpler life was when we didn't understand it, when we ignored signs and warning shots. 

Today's date is over thirty days from the day I began the status report before you. As I prepare for yet one more appointment to try and diagnose the cause of my pain I have to force my fingertips to engage in anything other than torturing a tv remote. Even my desire to read has left the building. As always I forge ahead confident there are answers headed my way. In the mean time I gaze off like a bored teen looking for something in the refrigerator. I'm hungry and lazy at the same time. It's during these desert wanderings that I question whether I'm a writer or someone who simply likes to write. Why submit myself to all this self doubt? 

I have come to the conclusion that my problem has been with my identity. I now realize that I am a husband, father, grandfather, homeowner, employee, citizen first. Being a writer/blogger/artist is down the list a ways. Wanting to place, "me", the writer nearer the top is selfish and presumptuous. Yes, I believe you must be true to yourself but I also take my wedding vows, fatherhood, grandfatherhood, and paying the mortgage seriously and I now feel that only after all those responsibilities have been prioritized properly can I find true happiness and fulfillment in any other capacity. Let's just say it's a Wallenda-like tight-wire act. 

So the journey continues--for us all. That's the way it happens. We constantly encounter these intersections of decision and discovery. There are times when I find it best to pull over and park until the fog clears but sometimes what we're in search of lies just beyond the bend of the gravel road and if we'd muscled through just one more mile we'd have reached our destination. 

Live with your choices. 

Revel in the knowledge that you're here to make them. 

Time to pull up those boot straps...

November 15, 2014


By John R. Greenwood

the man in the mirror stares 
in the distance he detects voices
directions he hears but cannot understand
they have something to share

October 06, 2014

Doctor's Office Observations cont..

Doctor's Office Observations cont...
By John R. Greenwood

Here's the second collection of observations I've made during various doctor visits over the last few years. I started the practice back in 2011. Because quiet time has been a premium in my life I found waiting room visits provided a tiny oasis of writing time. I always bring a pad and pen. I shy away from germ soaked People Magazine and the strategically placed diabetes brochures. I found it sort of therapeutic to tune my observation skills in such a confined space. 

Sounds exciting huh? 

April 2o13
We were there for an ear ache. It was an I-can't-stand-another-minute visit in hopes of some relief. Mrs G. fought off the discomfort for several days. Ear ache was winning the battle. Mrs G. doesn't like to lose fights with illness. She fights back. Today she called in the cavalry (Wilton Med) to the rescue.

It was kid day at Wilton Med. They came in crying, hopping, whining, and whispering. One was still in her soccer uniform, her hopping was not the soccer move that brought her here.

One little boy took a baseball to the eye. He was enjoying his medical adventure much more than the mother and grandmother who brought him in--just to be sure.

There was a little peapod with a cough that started from the tips of her lighted sneaks and ended at the tips of her Dora The Explorer barrettes. It was going to be a long night in her parent's house.

One family seemed to keep circling the block of exam rooms. They would go in one door, come out another. It seemed an endless journey. By the time we left, I'm certain they had logged a few miles. They may be circling yet...


Today is a new day; we are visiting the ophthalmologist. The waiting room includes a vintage collection of veterans, cranky ladies with walkers, nosey old men who have nothing else to do other than to interrogate you about your reasons for being there. There are high spots though. The accommodating Dr. Fellenbaum is a master mechanic of eyes and tuning them to work their best. He saved my fathers vision and kept it functioning at optimum level until the end. He is an unsung hero in my eyes--literally. He is quiet and soft spoken. His office is always busy and no second is squandered. He is one of my favorite men with extra letters before and after his name.

The month of May 2013 finds us in the lobby of the Saratoga Hospital for a simple blood test. It's early yet, but the meddling grandmother behind the reception desk spends the entire time on a personal call. When an actual call comes in she seems unhappy she must depart from analyzing everyone's else's business. I suppose I should refrain from judgement. She is volunteering. I am not.

One man enters the lobby and heads directly to the complimentary coffee center. He has this down pat. He must be a regular.

July 3, 2013
Two men, obviously old friends, who have me beat by at least 10 years, sit and compare notes. It goes like this for at least twenty minutes:

Vince- "Hey, how ya doin'? I haven't seen you in a while. You still live on such-and such  Street?

Dominick- "Yup, still there. The house needs some work but I need a lot more."

And so the repertoire continued its ping pong of of short question and shorter answer. There was an occasional dig at the our 44th President and our much maligned governor. The conversation was familiar and predictable. I'm sure the weather forecast found its way in there at some point too. I smiled on the inside and suddenly missed my father and his nightly news commentary. Commentary that I'm proud to say skipped at least one generation. Generally I support the president and governor whomever they might be.

September 2013
I'm in Albany for a routine eye exam.
It's a quiet office with more canes and walkers than fish in the fish tank. Comfortable shoes abound. Squeaky voices and grey haired adult children ease the concerns of their shaking parents with mouth to ear whispers. This phenomenon circles the room like a wave. My eye lids gain five pounds within minutes. My head bobs like a Chesapeake buoy in March. The next words I hear are, "Mr. Greenwood?"

September 2014
Doctor Fellenbaum - I'm back for a yearly eye exam in Albany. It's quieter than normal here today. The waiting room has one well behaved senior who appears to be waiting for another senior who may be filed away in one of the remote examination rooms. Even when the place seems empty someone inevitably appears from the shadows every few minutes. It's as if they've been in storage out back; only to be released for good behavior or to make room for the next Mr. or Mrs. Woeisme. These visits are lighter and more entertaining than the ones I experienced with dad when I was his medical transport technician. Those events were stressful and always seemed to come when I was overtired to begin with. I've become quite adept at waiting room survival techniques. I find simple ways to self entertain. My biggest challenge is not dozing off. Mrs G. finds it disturbing when she returns from her exam to find me asleep, with my head tilted back like a Popeye Pez Dispenser drooling on my shirt and snoring like a black lab next to a warm stove. I smile at her disapproval as she grabs my hand and whisks me off to the parking lot. 

These observations are 99% accurate and meant to take the edge of those ever increasing waits that we seem to dread so much.