Pulmonary Fibrosis, A Little Bird Told Me

It’s Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month.

And even though it’s the last day of Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month I still think it’s important to mention that it’s Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis or IPF is: a rare disease characterized by progressive replacement of normal lung tissue with scar tissue. The scarred tissue becomes thick and stiff making it harder for the lungs to exchange oxygen.  Idiopathic means there is no known cause of the disease, pulmonary refers to the lungs, and the scarring is called fibrosis…At this time there is no cure or treatment to reverse the scarring in the lungs.


I spent a little time with a friend of mine the other day.

I had been watching Ken Burn’s The Vietnam War on PBS so I asked him,

“Have you been watching PBS?”

“No,” he said.  “I was there, I don’t need to watch it on TV.”

My friend flew a Cobra helicopter in Vietnam.

One day a bullet came through the bottom of his helicopter and traveled through his foot and into his lower leg.   The surgeon warned him before surgery that he may lose the leg, but thankfully when he woke up it was still there.

During my visit he told me the story of comrades returning to the US on a civilian airliner and having people spit on them at the airport.

He however didn’t have to worry about that, because that bullet that went through his foot had him coming home in blue pajamas on a stretcher in the back of a Military Airlift Command C-141.

Once home though, he told me about his first contact with the public; he and his wife attended a church service in Maryland. Now in civilian clothes,  before the service,  he and his wife stood with a crowd of people outside the church waiting.  Someone asked my friend how he had broken his leg.

“I didn’t break it,” he responded.  “I got shot in Vietnam.”

After hearing my friend’s response, the crowd parted.  It wasn’t out of respect or patriotism.

When he and his wife entered the church and sat down, they were the only ones in their pew that otherwise would have sat about 20 people.

No one else in the church that morning chose to sit with my friend and his wife and his Vietnam shot up leg.

They sat all by themselves.


The other night I had this dream.

I dreamed I was holding a little bird in my hand.  After holding on to the bird for a while I passed it off to an older man, my father I think.

I don’t remember much else about it but the next morning while having coffee,  my wife shared with me the daily Bible verse she receives via text each day.  It was a photo of a hand holding a bird with  Matthew 25:21  as the overlay.

I told her about my dream and holding this little bird in my hand.  Hey, maybe this was a sign for me, I thought.  And maybe not.

But maybe…


But even if this scripture had no relevance to me, it had great relevance to my friend.

My friend now sits at home connected to machines that provide him additional oxygen to breath.  He monitors his oxygen saturation frequently.  Yet in spite of the two machines making oxygen and the 50 foot of oxygen tubing he drags around with him; simple activities like going to a different room, taking the stairs, going to the bathroom are major undertakings.  It’s not that he is unable to leave his home, it’s just that now the effort required to make such a move seems not worth it.

My friend; a decorated national hero in my opinion, a writer, a historian, engineer, a pillar of his church, a father, and a husband…has IPF.

In his lifetime he was shot and wounded and ostracized; but just like the scripture said, he was a good and faithful servant and he overcame.  And he was set over many things.

He entered into the joy of the Lord.

And he has shared that to the benefit of many of us since.


Many of us Americans behaved badly and did stupid things during the Vietnam War.  Many are regrettable now looking back.

Maybe twenty years from now we will look back on this time of “taking a knee” or hiding in the tunnel during the National Anthem and regret those actions too.  But then maybe not.  Maybe the hatred of this President will trump reasonable decision making like it did forty five or fifty years ago.

I am not a political person and this is not a political commentary.

But we do have many national treasures like my friend out there.

They are all around us. We see them in church, we see them at work, we see them on motorcycles, we see them in wheelchairs parading down the airport terminal as they come off their Honor Flights.

They fill our cemeteries.

Then there are those, like my friend, who in spite of being good and faithful servants and after all the sacrifice they have been through, end up with IPF or something else that limits their ability to live normal lives.

But still, if we are lucky we can sit with them, talk to them, and learn from them.


I hope we learned something from our experience in Vietnam.  We may have also hated that President at the time and we may have hated the war.

But we have to remember who it really affected, who it was who took the spit, the  proverbial bullet and for some, the actual bullet in those causes.

Those folks still bear the scars.

We have to remember as we protest today’s causes, the spit doesn’t always land on those who it was intended to hit.

And it opens old wounds.

But I digress.

This concept for me started out being about pulmonary fibrosis; a dream about having a  bird in my hand  that came to some clarity with scripture the next morning: and,  associating all of that with living a life of service.

But I hope I was able to bring some awareness to you about IPF.  I hope you click a link and read about it and think about providing some support to find a solution, other than a lung transplant, that will allow people like my friend to be out mentoring others and not sitting in his living room.

And as for my dream and that scripture,  I hope it means that I have been faithful over a few things, and as a result will be set over many things myself.   If I can ever impact half as many lives as my friend has, I know I will experience joy too.


If you would like to support Pulmonary Fibrosis research, visit Angela and Alicia Snyder-Miller’ s team Run (for) Forrest Run! page of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. They have a goal to reach that should easily be exceeded as they run to raise awareness of IPF.


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Ethan, Christian, and Irma

Ethan, my littlest guy, safe and asleep somewhere in north Florida

Just five days ago I was joining many others and praying for the survivors and the first responders in Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey made landfall and continued to rain and flood for days.   For me, mostly faceless and nameless people, known to me only by images on my TV.

But to many others these folks most certainly had names and faces, some were family like my friend Drew whose brother lives in Houston; others friends and colleagues.  For them their prayers were more specific, their anxiety more real, their concern hitting home beyond CNN or The Weather Channel.

This week I understand.

Yesterday, in the early hours of the morning, members of my immediate family; my daughter, son-in-law, and their two sons fled Broward County and began to head north.  Their sons, two of my three grandchildren, are just babies.  One is two years old, the other less than two months old.  Yesterday morning they became part of the Irma refugee movement north.

Later in the day they found shelter in northern Florida; far enough north where, though they may not avoid a hurricane, they should be safe to ride out a much lesser storm.

Though I find some comfort in a weaker threat, I am not comfortable.

As I sit now and watch CNN, detail after detail, listening to the interview of the mayor of Hollywood Florida, the town where my kids live; watching the storm track and those spinning 5’s and 4’s go up the Florida peninsula I am relieved my daughter, my son-in-law, and those babies are not in south Florida.

But I am not without great concern.

I have a lot of extended family and some very good friends in Florida.

If you are from Jersey, you have family and friends in Florida.

I am concerned for all of them.

I am safe many miles away.

My biggest weather related concern this summer has been how the rain has forced me to have to cut my grass every six days and still my mower sputters and stalls. What an inconvenience.

There are people in Texas and in the Caribbean tonight who don’t have lawns to cut anymore, some don’t have houses, some worse than that.

I am safe far away from the chaos, but I am also helpless to those that I love who may be close to danger.

All I can do now is pray.

And like last Sunday I will pray for the safety of all those in harm’s way as residents, visitors, and those responding to the call for help.

But in addition to that, for me this week I will pray in greater detail.  This week I have names, and faces, and memories, and futures to prayer for.

So for now I will watch the storm projections and listen to the countless interviews. I will act cool and supportive on the phone and in the text messages.

But I will continue to worry about my littlest Irma refugees and my family and friends.

And I will pray.

Ten o’clock update.  A little more shift to the west.  I think it’s working…

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The Houston Kid

The Houston Kid, album by Rodney Crowell

“I pray that the benevolent God from whom I draw strength brings, with ever increasing speed, the peace, comfort, healing and resource so badly needed by our brothers and sisters whose lives have been so drastically altered by Hurricane Harvey. Since Friday, in my mind’s eye and heart, the streets, houses, alleys, bayous, gulleys (sic), plant life (elephant ears, and chinaberry trees) and people of my youth have been vividly alive. These are the souls and images I’ve mined in search of song for forty-plus years. In childhood I knew floods, Audrey’s and Carla’s, intimately. Today, their memory seems tame compared to the images on my current living room screen. If there’s a silver lining—and I believe there will be—may it find us fast. We are all in this together.”

Yours as ever,


It’s National Day of Prayer.

This prayer was posted on Facebook by my friend Rodney Crowell the other day.  Well, he is not really my friend, I like him on Facebook.  I mean I don’t only just like him on Facebook, I like him.  Actually I don’t really know him so I don’t really know if I would like him or not.  I guess I like his music.

If you don’t know who Rodney Crowell is, he is an American musician, singer, and songwriter mostly known for country music but you may recognize one of his more successful popular songs  “Shame on the Moon” which was recorded on the 1982 album “The Distance” by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

In September of 1961 Hurricane Carla, mentioned in Rodney’s prayer, hit the Texas coast. Harvey is said to be the worst storm to hit Texas since Carla.  In his memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks, Crowell remembers Hurricane Carla and how it affected his family.  The $6,000 “cracker-box palace…essentially a tarpaper shack,” steadily became a wreck when Hurricane Carla thundered through in 1961.  This home was located in Jacinto City a town a few miles east of Houston.

Also in his song Telephone Road from the album The Houston Kid:

Rain came down in endless sheets of thunder
Lightnin’ bolts split pine trees down to the roots
In the shadow of the Astrodome with a hurricane comin’ on strong
We used to hit the streets and go swimming in our birthday suits


NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 3, 2017, as a National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for our National Response and Recovery Efforts.  We give thanks for the generosity and goodness of all those who have responded to the needs of their fellow Americans.  I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers today for all those harmed by Hurricane Harvey, including people who have lost family members or been injured, those who have lost homes or other property, and our first responders, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and medical professionals leading the response and recovery efforts.

(From the President’s Proclamation to make September 3, 2017 National Day of Prayer as a result of Hurricane Harvey)


I am not President Donald Trump’s friend.  I don’t like him on Facebook. But I don’t know President Donald Trump either, so I don’t know if I would like him or not.

But I do know, those folks in Texas need some prayers.

Barbecue and beer on ice
A salty watermelon slice at the Little Taste of Paradise
On Telephone Road (from Telephone Road, The Houston Kid).

Better days in Houston, let’s pray for that.





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Rescue Me

My truck in the garage kind of…I couldn’t close the door.

It was a beautiful weekend.  One of the nicer weekends we have had in a long time.

I…had to clean out the garage.

I think I had to clean out the garage this weekend to make up for all the unintentional mean things I have said to my wife over the last twenty years.   I say unintentional because certainly I would never say anything intentionally mean to my wife.

I even had to part with my three level,  four by eight foot metal warehouse rack shelving that I have had in my garages since before we got married.

I was sad.

I took it and two truckloads of stuff…to “the dump.”

In Jersey we always called it “the dump.”

Here it’s actually called the Fairfax County Solid Waste Recycling Center.  That’s a mouthful.

But I should know better.

One Saturday morning a couple of years ago I was asked to open up one of the offices of the company that I worked for at the time, so that a group that we supported could use the space for a meeting.  This was a group of volunteer coaches for a youth sports program in the county.

It was okay with me that I open the office that morning because I had a pick-up truck load of stuff that I needed to take to “the dump” anyway, and this office happened to be close to the Fairfax County Solid Waste Recycling Center.

I opened the office and waited for the meeting to start.  The leader of the group, my contact, offered me the opportunity to speak so I stood up and welcomed them,  said a few words about the company, and in closing I said “now if you will excuse me I need to go to the dump.”

I said thanks, made my exit, and drove to the Fairfax County Solid Waste Recycling Center. Once done I stopped and had a cup of coffee while I waited for the meeting to be over so I could go back and lock up.

When I returned the meeting was over and everyone had left except for my contact who was cleaning up.

I asked how the meeting went and he said, “Great, but one funny thing did happen.”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Well after you left,” he said, “someone spoke up and said,”

Wow that was inappropriate.”

“What do you mean?” he asked the volunteer coach who made the comment.

“Way too much information” said the volunteer, “telling us he was going to go now and take a dump.”

So my contact had to explain that I didn’t say I was going to “go take a dump,” in fact what I had said was that I was going to go to “the dump,” the refuse center.

So we laughed, but I was little embarrassed.

I guess sometimes we say things we don’t really mean.  And sometimes people hear things we didn’t really say; or sometimes people hear what we say but take it to mean something very different.

Something unintentional.

And so sometimes we end up embarrassed…or sometimes we end up having to clean the garage.

But in the end it all worked out.  I don’t work for that company anymore; and my wife is really excited that she may be able to put her car in the garage this winter.

Life is good.

But you might be saying right now, “Geez Curt, this is inappropriate, this is way too much information.”

Maybe, but it’s not about crude bathroom humor or cleaning out the garage.

One of the prayers at church this morning had this opening line:

“Lord, please rescue me…from me.”

Since there are times when we do say things that are inappropriate; and there are times when we do say things that are embarrassing; and then there are also times when we say things or behave in certain ways intentionally that may be hurtful to others, even though we didn’t mean them to be.

Sometimes we just need rescued, rescued from ourselves.




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He Restoreth My Soles

The Apollos, with Wayne Groves behind the drums

It was 1964 and a win at a local “Battle of the Bands” got this group of six young Northern Virginia musicians some studio time at a DC recording studio.  Surf music was big and surf music was the kind of music they liked to play.

The band was called the Apollos.

Apollo was the Greek God of Music and masculinity too.   But the name also came from the space program that had recently been designed to land humans on the moon.  What a crazy idea that was.

Their demo consisted of four songs including That’s the Breaks their most popular song and a version of the Beach Boys Dance, Dance, Dance with drummer Wayne Groves also providing lead vocals on that track.

Fast forward fifty three years or so and Wayne Groves stands by his workbench in Berryville Virginia, his work apron on, looking a bit older than those Apollos days yet still with the somewhat familiar look of a musician who had grown up in the 60’s.  His voice is soft and his demeanor calm.  The drumsticks he relied in those early battles now replaced by leather tools.

“I brought you something special” I said to him on the day I brought in my early 70’s blonde square toe Frye boots, “these are old.”

Wayne had already been tested on three other pairs of my cowboy boots by that day, some of those going back to the mid 80’s.

“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way” he responded, “but everything you have brought me so far has been old!”

I laughed, but he was right about that. I’ve walked a lot of miles in those boots.


His hands moved over the skin of my boots like Baffert checking the ankles of his new Triple Crown prospect or Clapton sizing up the neck of a fine new Telecaster for the first time.

“These boots have a story” he said as his hands skillfully pulled back the leather and he examined the challenge I had just placed in his care.

He was right about that too those boots did have a story.  I was in high school when I got those boots; hopefully he’s not “the boot whisperer.”


“What did you want to do when you grew up?” I asked Wayne one day.

“A musician,” his wife Barbara chimed in before he could respond.

“Really” I said “tell me about that.”

And so that’s when I learned the story of the Apollos, and the battle of the bands, and how they almost made it.  Wayne played the drums, but did also get to do that lead vocal on Dance, Dance, Dance.

He learned to be a leather craftsman by apprenticing sort of in the early days with Georgetown Leather.   He learned to restore boots and shoes from a third generation Italian shoe maker.


As for my early 70’s blonde square toe Frye’s:

“I picked all these stitches out by hand, you can see where others before me had chewed up the edge” he told me one day when I stopped in to check on his progress.

“I almost didn’t want to do them” he confessed the day I went to pick them up, “but the further I got into them, I had to finish.”

They looked fantastic, almost 45 years of abuse by me and some less talented and surely less concerned leatherworkers, now restored by a true artisan.

When I asked Wayne about retirement he just laughed a little.

I think I understand.  How do you walk away from something that’s been so much a part of your life, like music I guess, you never just put it down.  Great artists don’t retire they just get older and keep creating.

And as the Apollos song says, that’s the breaks.

But I don’t think those breaks were anything regrettable.

As for that music, old dreams don’t die easy and those drumsticks weren’t put down either.  In August Wayne will be attending a music camp down south with some of his old band mates from the Apollos.


Wayne and Barbara’s shop is called Tricks of the Trade.  Originally located for many years in Great Falls Virginia, it now resides in Berryville Virginia at 101 East Main Street.  If you have something leather that needs created, repaired, or restored I recommend you make the trip to Berryville. Or maybe you have some new patches for your motorcycle jacket or vest; or a pair of vintage cowboy boots that need servicing, or maybe five pair like I did. Stop in and see Wayne and Barbara then go down the road a bit and have a glass of wine at the Veramar Vineyard and winery.

Then wait a week or two and do it again when you go pick up item.

You won’t regret it.

If you don’t live in Northern Virginia, call Wayne or send him an email, maybe you can ship your treasures.

And if you want to hear some vintage Apollos and Wayne cooking on the drums, just google The Apollos, garage band, you will find some of their music on YouTube or look them up on Ebay.

The mailman just delivered my vinyl copy of Round 2 The Battle of the Bands with The Apollos Live, 1966.

I’m good.



Tricks of the Trade:
101 East Main St.
Berryville, VA 22611
email: groove1way@aol.com

Barbara and Wayne Groves
(Photo courtesy of the Clarke Daily News)

My early 70’s blonde square toe Frye’s, check out that stitching

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I Wish I Had


Today is July 18th.

This morning Cameron and I were sitting on the deck making fart noises through our walkie talkies and laughing hysterically.

When you are seven and sixty-one it is okay to make fart noises.  Though I will admit this is the first time I have ever made fart noises through a walkie talkie.  If you were monitoring channel 21 earlier today I apologize.

From my journal, I read this from July 16,  2015:

This is the text message I got from Kim today:

“Thirteen years ago today was the last time I saw Donny”

When Kim took the kids to the airport that morning of July 16, 2002 to put them on a plane to Las Vegas to see their father who they hadn’t seen in a while, she was scared.  She hated to fly, and the decision to let Donny and Savannah make this trip in the first place was a difficult one.  Now she was at the security gate about to send them through to the area only ticketed passengers were allowed to go.

Security was tight, after all it had been less than a year since 9/11.  When Kim encountered the security agent checking tickets she begged and pleaded and told the man about her kids and that it was their first time flying, the situation in general,  and most of all her anxiety.  Would he just let her go through and wait with them at the gate?

This nice man, at the risk of his job probably, let her go through.

In the gate area they ate food at Friday’s and at some point Donny said she could leave, that they would be fine.  Though she walked away, Kim didn’t leave the area and she watched them until they boarded the airplane, they were unaware.

Coincidentally, on July 16th 2002, President George W. Bush announced his plan for strengthening homeland security in the wake of the September 11, 2001(911) terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. He created the Department of Homeland Security and the color-coded warning system that different levels of threat.

Thanks to the pre Homeland Security airport employee who took a big risk, Kim had the small consolation of a moment and a memory.

Tomorrow it will be 15 years since Donny’s accident and it is still difficult.  We have never yielded to the advice to “get over it” or to “move on”.  And though we were told that God wouldn’t give us more than we could handle, there are many times when we can’t handle it.  Time doesn’t heal, it just changes the pain.


I never made fart noises with Donny.  He was a little older and I was a little younger and we were way too cool for that.

But you know what?

I wish I had.

I wish I had done a lot of things.

So if Cameron wants to make fart noises through our walkie talkies, I’m going to be right there with him.

I never want to “wish I had” again.

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The Kid, The Donald, and Two Guys Named Benny from Jersey

Kid Rock

Last week I read on the internet that Kid Rock had died.  He was killed in a fire that officials thought was caused by a meth lab.  Kid Rock killed in a fire making methamphetamine.

“Kim,” I yelled, Kid Rock died, he was killed making methamphetamine.  And we just saw him on the CMA awards.”


Last night I was sitting in bed on the internet again and I read that Kid Rock was running for the Senate in the state of Michigan.

How about that?  Last week he was killed in a fire and this week he is running for the Senate.  Not only that but he was planning a tour to promote his candidacy.


I read last year that Donald Trump was running for president.

Then I read that he won!

It’s amazing what happens in this land of ours!


The biggest thing in the news today is how the Russians influenced my vote.

It had to have been subliminal forces at work:

“Vote Da for the Myshka…”

“Vote Da for the Myshka…”


I don’t know, it’s too complicated for someone of my aptitude.


And they say Trump Jr. had something to do with this diabolical plot.


Agent: “Mr. Trump Jr. please sit down in this chair.”

Trump Jr.: “No, no not the lights…!”

Agent:  “Yes the lights.  Mr. Trump Jr. you met with a Russian attorney in your office?”

Trump Jr.:  “Maybe”

Agent:  “Was there anyone else at that meeting?”

Trump Jr.: “Yes, a Russian operative”

Agent:  “So now you are saying that you met with more than one Russian in your office?”

Trump Jr.: “Well, yes, substantially”

Agent: “How many Mr. Trump Jr.?”

Trump Jr.:  “Ten maybe..?”

Agent:  “Ten Mr. Trump? Seriously why not 15?”

Trump Jr.:  “Because the North Koreans were taking up too much room.”

Agent: “North Koreans?”

Trump Jr.:  “Yeah there weren’t many chairs left.”

Agent:  “Now you are admitting there were North Koreans at the meeting, was there anyone else at the meeting?”

Trump Jr.: “Yes”

Agent: “Who?”

Trump Jr: “Two guys from Jersey.”

Agent: “Two guys from Jersey…where are these two guys from Jersey I want to talk to them?”

(Confronts the two guys from Jersey)

Agent:  “Are you guys from Jersey?”

Guys: “Da”

Agent: “What part of Jersey?”

Guy:“Is Hoboken.”

Agent: “You really want me to believe that you guys are from Hoboken, New Jersey?”

Guy: “Da”

Agent: “Where did you get that accent, you don’t sound like you are from Jersey?”

Guy: “Was once Russian, no more…from Jersey…is Hoboken.”

Agent: “Okay so what’s your name?”

Guy: “Benny”

Agent:  “Benny? That’s original, what’s his name (other guy)?”

Guy:  “Is Benny too”

Agent:  “Okay, so Mr. Trump Jr. you are saying you met in your office with ten Russians, five North Koreans, and two guys named Benny from Jersey…was there anyone else? (Turns up the lights)

Trump Jr:  “Okay, okay I will tell you but just turn off the lights!”

Agent:  “Who Mr. Trump Jr, who?”

Trump Jr.: “Boris and Natasha”

Agent:  “Boris and Natasha?  Seriously, was Rocky and Bullwinkle there too?”

Trump Jr.:  “C’mon now don’t be silly, Rocky and Bullwinkle were not there that’s ridiculous!”


Unbelievable stuff right?  And so sinister.


But it’s crazy:

Kid Rock dies in a meth fire!

Donald Trump runs for President!

Kid Rock runs for the Senate!

Hillary involved in Pizzagate!

Donald Trump becomes President!

Russians influencing me to vote for Mickey Mouse!


I need a break, I think I will go sit down on the couch.


Me:  “Alexa, I am so sick of politics…let me hear something from Bruce Springsteen.”

Alexa:  “I thought you said were sick of hearing about politics?”

Me:  “Okay, okay, how about Over the Rainbow?”

Alexa:  “Whatsa matter your arms broke?  What do I look like a Juke Box?  Does my shirt say DJ Jazzie Jeff on it?”


Alright I was just messing with you again, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet you know…

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true


They do I guess, that’s nice…now where was that post that had John Kasich winning…?

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Alexa…When Was Father’s Day?

It’s Monday evening and the beginning of Amazon Prime night.

My wife just told me she bought me an Alexa.

“Why, I asked, “did you buy me an Alexa? I have had an Alexa (oldest daughter) for almost 35 years and she has never done anything I have asked her to do!”

“Why should this Alexa be different?”

If the first time I ask this Alexa to do something, and she squinches up her mouth and lips to one side I know I am in trouble.

Of course, I know, this Alexa doesn’t have a mouth.

I hope.


It’s been a while.

I have been busy.

Too busy for things like Father’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and especially writing.

For a brief stint I had a title again.  “Missions Coordinator,” it was fun and rewarding.

I have never been one who cared much for titles.  I was always a little self-conscious of my titles throughout my career.

The recent trend in the always creative business world with constant innovation is this desire to constantly innovate titles as well.  But I say who really wants to go to their high school reunion and when asked what you are doing now, say they are the Happiness Hero, or the Chief Executive Unicorn, or the Paranoid in Chief, or the Marketing Ninja, or the Director of Fundom?

These are all real titles…I searched.

But the world does change and we have to change with it.  We have to constantly innovate like it or not, in all aspects of our lives

I have this great ID bracelet that was given to me by one of my kids.  But it doesn’t have my name on it, it has another title I tend to go by and that’s “DAD.”

I have to admit I don’t wear it as much as I should. But on a recent weekend that I expected to be a particular tough “Dad” weekend, I busted it out and snapped it on my wrist.

Maybe I needed some super power, like putting on my cape or “to the Bat Poles,” I was now Dad Ninja, Happiness Hero Dad, Director of Fundad.

Although Paranoid in Chief Dad might have been more accurate.


Last year on Father’s Day I lamented about how after all these years I was still learning how to be a father.  But maybe I was being too hard on myself.

There are males out there who have fathered children but aren’t dads.

There are males out there who are active fathers but aren’t good role models.

But then there are also men out there, some even who have never fathered children, who fill a father’s role where there otherwise would be none.  And they do it honorably, deserve great respect, and are powerful role models.

I have learned that this year.  And though my report card includes some incompletes, some failures, a satisfactory or two; I might also get an exceeds expectations every now and then, so maybe I am earning a passing grade.

This past Father’s Day my buddy Jim did an awesome job filling in for the pastor at church.  In his message he made the point that fathers leave a lasting legacy and asked the question, “What will your legacy be?”

I don’t know exactly but I am still working on it.

On that same weekend that I thought I needed the dad super powers, one of my kids told me I was her best friend.  At the time the comment was made it was overshadowed by the rest of the conversation and not acknowledged.

But I heard it.

And I have remembered it

Maybe I did do something right.


This is my Father’s Day post for 2017 almost 4 weeks late.  I was too busy to finish it at the time.

Too busy.

It happens I guess…we get too busy.  So I guess better late than never applies.

That happens a lot when you are a Dad I think.  Fathers often get too busy.  We miss a lot.

But it’s better late than never for that as well, better to be late starting to work on that legacy than to be not at all.  And too late can apply in this case.

My head is on my pillow tonight knowing my girls are happy and they are safe.


It’s been about 42 hours since my wife ordered my Alexa.

It just arrived, and I just set it up.

Alexa, can I get a cup of coffee?”

“Whatsa matter your arms broke?  Do I have Barista on my shirt?”

I know, I know this Alexa wouldn’t say that… I was just messing with you…that Alexa lives in Florida.

And besides there is no mouth, I checked.



Post Script:

Though this new Alexa is really cool, I still love my old one more.

Thankfully my kids are good sports.  That is a little part of the legacy I think.

Super Powers

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Oh My! Who Knew? DNA and Urinals

Meet the tallest urinal I have ever encountered! Who knew in just a few generations it would come to this?


Sometimes we are faced with decisions.

Sometimes those decisions can cause us to look at ourselves and wonder why.

Why am I having to make this decision, what is it about me that I can’t change and how did I get that way?

One day while working and calling on physicians offices I found myself in a fairly new office building in Alexandria, VA.

I had to use the restroom.  There in that restroom reality hit me.  I had to make a decision.

Do I go left or do I go right?


Coincidentally, at the time I had been reading Angela Duckworth’s book Grit:The Power of Passion and Perseverance which I have referred to a couple of times before in my essays.  I had just finished the chapter called Grit Grows with the question “How much of our grit is in our genes?”

Our genes.

Our DNA.

DNA has become a popular subject in my house lately.  My wife and I are trying to learn more about our family histories and where we came from.

It’s fascinating.

Where did we come from…our families?

And why are we like we are?

It’s in our genes, our DNA.

But is it entirely?

Ms. Duckworth will tell us with “complete conviction that every human trait is influenced by both genes and experience.”

She explains that height is a good example and that the average height of men and women has increased dramatically over just a few generations.

But what in our experiences affected our height?

According to Ms. Duckworth; nutrition, modern medicine, clean air and water. And she points out that children who were provided an abundant amount of healthy food grew up taller than those who were undernourished.


My wife and I recently did the Ancestry.com DNA test to learn more about the mysteries of the heritage of each of our families.

My sister had already done this test through Ancestry.com and received her results.  I suppose I could have just looked at hers and pretty much determined from her results what mine would look like.

But then I thought about it…

My sister is so much different than the rest of us.

Maybe she was adopted?  I mean she is the oldest so how would the rest of us have known the difference?

Then I thought about it some more…

It occurred to me that both my brothers and even my sister are taller than me.  What did that mean?

Maybe I was the one who was adopted!

Or, was it my experience?

Maybe my mother was feeding my two brothers and my sister more and better food than she was feeding me.

Maybe that’s why I was getting lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches in my lunch box at school.


But then my results came back and accordingly to Ancestry.com, my sister and I are undeniably siblings.  So unless we were both adopted as brother and sister, it had to mean that it was my experience and my mother underfeeding me was probably the only explanation as to why I was the shortest!


The results indicated that my sister Patty was 51% Scandinavian and I was 46%.  More specifically it indicated we were western Norwegian.   I always figured I was half Norwegian, both my dad’s parents are from Norway.

But the other results were a surprise.  Patty was 36% Great Britain and I was 34%.  She was 10%  Europe East and I was 10% Europe West.  Patty had trace amounts (3%) Europe East and the Iberian Peninsula and I finished out with 5% Europe East, 4% Iberian Peninsula, and 1% Finnish/North Western Russia.

What does all this mean?

I don’t know yet, but I do know that all the while growing up when I was asked what nationality I was I would say half Norwegian and half German.

Just like when I was growing up and someone would ask:

“Hey man, what’s up with your sister?”

I would say I don’t know I think she was adopted.


But now I know all that wasn’t true.  I am not half German and there is only a small percentage that could be German.  And I know, thanks to Ancestry.com that neither my sister nor I am adopted.  And I was just kidding about my sister and those questions from my friends and all that adopted stuff because even if she was I would still love her as much as I do now anyway since we all know adoption is a blessing.

And I don’t really think that my mother was purposely trying to starve me resulting in my comparably short stature.  Besides, I liked lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches, it was my favorite lunch.  And even if she was trying back then,  she is certainly attempting to make up for it now.

So this DNA stuff is really fascinating.

As for Grit, I do think I got my grit partly inherited and partly from experience just as Ms. Duckworth theorized.

And, with regards to my height… it’s okay Ma, I know it’s not your fault I couldn’t reach that urinal on the right.

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Pop’s Lady

Pop’s Lady

The waterman typically woke up about 3:30 AM.  There was no need to set an alarm, no need to set a time on clock radio or West Bend portable because the “alarm clock” was already up and making coffee out in the kitchen.

The first mate was always the first up as well.


That coffee had to be brewed, thermoses filled, and breakfast made.  It would be a while until lunch.

In the early days, before the law was changed that allowed crabbing only after the sun came up, they hit the water in complete darkness.  High powered flashlights had to be used to spot the buoys indicating where the trotlines started and ended and on the dark mornings, up and down the river it looked like  premier night at the movies.  Those mornings when the fog moved in it was a leap of faith.

They worked three lines.  The shortest was 1800 feet long, the longest just short of a half mile. About every five feet the 3/16 nylon rope was twisted and a salted bull’s lip was inserted in the space and twisted back.

Bull’s lips were used as the bait.  The bait had to be tough.  It had to last as long as possible.

Once the lines were dropped to the river floor and the buoys placed to mark the location, the waterman would maneuver the boat back along the route of one of the submerged lines and an outrigger would slowly elevate the baited line to the surface, five feet and one bull’s lip at a time.  When a crab was spotted with its claws clinging to the bait it would be scooped into the boat with a crab net.  Once the crabs were in the boat, the mate would sort the crabs into the different baskets that at the end of the work day would be taken to the wholesaler and sold for that day’s wages. The sooks or females in one bucket, the jimmies or males in another. And of those, the restaurant sizes, the ones or twos, had to be separated out as well. The peelers in yet another bucket, they would fetch fifty cents apiece.

The name on the boat was Pop’s Lady.

Pop, my dad, was the Captain; Lady, my mom, was the First Mate.

I don’t remember exactly when my mother got the nickname Lady, but it was a long time ago.

When my parents retired and moved from New Jersey to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and settled down on the Little Choptank River they became commercial crabbers.  Together, they did this for about 15 years.

The first time I introduced my wife Kim to my parents, my mother was sitting under a big tree with a large bucket of bull’s lips by her side and their trotlines, inspecting and re-baiting the crab lines as was necessary.  Pulling out the worn out bull’s lip and inserting the new one, five feet at a time.

I don’t remember whether they shook hands.

My mother…aka Lady, Florence, Flo, Flozzie, Ma, Mom…whatever you called her was and still is as tough as those bull’s lips.

Before her stint as a waterman (or waterwoman), she managed a high school cafeteria for many years.  And before that as a young mother and wife she wielded a hammer, laid brick, and maneuvered a wheelbarrow alongside my dad, his dad, his brother, and his friends as they built our new house in Oceanport New Jersey.

She volunteered with the Oceanport Hook and Ladder Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary; she was a wonderful aunt in the extended family that made up the little village we had in our little corner of Oceanport.

And she raised four kids.

My sister Pat was born in 1952, while my dad was in the Army during the Korean conflict. My mom wrote my dad a letter every day that he was gone.

My brother Carl was born in 1954 and me in 1956.  My brother Gary was born not too long after that new house was finished on May 14, 1961, fifty six years ago today on a Mother’s Day.  My dad told me recently he would tell everyone Gary was Flo’s Mother’s Day present from him.

On a recent visit to see my parents, Kim had learned of a website that would tell you the most popular song at the time you were born.  One evening we had some fun with that.  I was born on June 27, 1956.  The most popular song at the time was “The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant.  My dad remembered it well.

This same site would also take it a step further and tell you the most popular song at the time you were conceived as well.

For me it was “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by Mitch Miller from the movie Giant, “a 1956 American epic Western drama film.”

Wait…my dad is a huge fan of western movies.

Yuck, way too much information.

C’mon Pop!  I always thought we had ice cream when we watched movies?

I haven’t watched a James Dean movie since.


But hey, thanks Pop, you did alright with your Lady and we are all blessed to have this one as our mother.

My mom is still riding shotgun with my dad; still fiercely loyal to her family; still managing that cafeteria only now it’s just her kitchen; still the carpenter’s helper; still tends to my boo boos ; takes care of her neighbors; and is still taking good care of us.

So Ma…Happy Mother’s Day!

In my first essay on Musings…Three Score and Counting  I twice referred to her as my lifeline.  She may not need to be my lifeline anymore, but it’s nice to know she is there.

And I still really appreciate those pork roll, egg, and cheese on the hard roll sandwiches so keep the cafeteria open!

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there.  It’s not always easy but we need you!

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