If I Live To Be a Curmudgeon.

When I grow up, my lofty goal is curmudgeondum. A cute crotchety old man I’d say. Grumpy, yet endearing. Is that possible? My wife and kids often underline me as adorable. Adorable is okay and all, but I’m looking for a bit edgy.

Yes, my aspiration is to grumble away while bent over wrangling loose shoelaces, forgetting to breathe. Just like the news, negative narratives sell, so a crotchety old fossil will gain more notoriety than simply being “nice.”

In the meantime, is there enough time to be mean? There’s enough time. I’ll start with bullying myself, I’m pretty good at that. But to be experienced as a frumpy relic with a negative aura, work is involved. The keeping of the goal must be sticky noted to the mirror, and written on the back of a business card shoved in my wallet.

I’ll begin by going around the house mumbling while flipping off light switches. I’ll put other people’s spent dishes in the washer, but in a clanking, cantankerous air of self-righteous purse-lipped distain.

I’ll pick up what they left lying around like some Cinderfella. I’ll be the king of projection, pointing and sighing while my own socks and underwear decompose near the laundry basket.

The next step is to mouth words to those who hunt and gather food from the kitchen but leave carcasses wherever they please. Instead of butlering the splayed crusty dishes and etcetera, I need to make the extra effort to tell the infractioneers to take care of their own messes. This isn’t my idea. My wife keeps telling me, “Hands off; leave it lie; walk on by.”

 And where have all the laundry baskets gone…long time passing? I thought they were carrying aids to the folding area. Folding? Bah. The refresh button on the dryer equals wrinkle riddance. Wrinkle spray equals the unfolding of lines and creases. What is an iron? I can hear a college prof asking such a question in a philosophy class.

I won’t mention the toilet paper roll…okay, I will, since you asked. How many rolls does it take to change a lightbulb? Uh, who changes lightbulbs, I mean, seriously? That will mean filling the trash can a bit more. Trash can. Trash can what? Garbage sits and sits as the can mimics Mt. Saint Helens in her third trimester.

Is it easier to do it for them? Yes, on an emotional scale it avoids glares, huffs, slumps, and non-responses. But in the long run, if I ‘do for’, they ‘don’t for’ just keep nice ole dad responding to their irresponsibility. No. No. And No. This does not edge me toward my goal.

I must see and say. I’m going to repeat and point. I will ignore their hem and haw. My adorable self will be transformed into a despotic psychotic man of means. The meaner the better. I’m not aiming to receive the red badge of discourage. The metal of courageous curmudgeon will be slipped around my neck before I am unable to scale the podium.


I checked to see if the sun was going to rise.

Not on a screen or the radio.

I walked back by where the dogs were sleeping,

Near the throbbing wood glow of the stove.

Beyond the window scattered light, though faint,

Brought relief through the huddled trees.

They had been out there all night

In the cool moonscape, swaying.

I’m glad the coffee was up and about.

Another signature that life was on the way.

I set the mug on the cast iron heat,

And the dogs, one on each side,

Helped me welcome a new day.

NOvember 20—Deep Winter

I’m glad I’m not in Buffalo, NY.  I’m more like a Bison-stander in Oshtemo, MI. You heard me. I’m an innocent bison-stander exhaling fog and ice while dusted in snow. The snow blower I borrowed really blew. The blowback covered my mane like a mountain peak. I needed to take a break and simply poise like a hunch backed beast.

My glasses served as deflectors of the blizz thrown into the breeze. I really didn’t want to see the reality before me anyhow. My mantra of movement stalled out, so I took a break to watch Notre Dame battle Boston College; two Catholic teams fighting for the approval of touchdown Jesus. The Irish Catholics didn’t need a Hail-Mary to win, they crossed themselves over and over, up and down the field. At the half they were up 37 to ZERO.

Back to work pushing and shoving 15 plus inches of frightful. Thankful that my brother-in-law let me borrow his snow thrower after a belt on mine melted and snapped, I walked another lap. After a while I got a text from my brother.

“It’s a great game if you can see it!! The Boston College players are invisible.” Their white uniforms transformed them into ghostly figures. The snow washing them out of the camera’s ability to receive.

I, on the other hand, kept trying to gain ten yards in my driveway. It seemed like fourth and long ad infinitum. The more I pushed, the more the deep deep winter pushed back. The all-day scrimmage scrambled my will to mush instead of the “Mush! Mush!” of the Iditarod determination.

At this point I can’t even keep my metaphors straight.

I’m about to layer up again and address the accumulation. This time the roof needs relief. It seems I just got done raking leaves…now I will rake the roof. Raise the roof?!?

Let’s put the “win” back in winter, shall we?

As One Leaf Falls, So Falls Another.

Autumn has my heart, always. There’s something about a blushing tree that draws my attention. Maybe it’s emotion. Could be a touch of empathy for the forest as it strolls toward dormancy. The maples, especially, gasp with color as their breathing slows. Summer draws down. The sun flattens its course more each day and the leaves, well, they look up to the trees.   

Yeah. Beauty is fleeting. Duty calls. It’s the first time in eleven years I’ll have serious leafage. At the last house we had one small tree in the front and one in the back. The house before that had a single, somewhat insignificant, maple in the front. Leaf cleanup consisted of a bit of extra mowing.

This is gonna blow.

If I had my druthers, I’d light ‘em up where they lay, like the controlled burn on the trails around here. It’d get out of hand though. One little gust of wind and Smokey the Bear would wag his taloned digit at me while the neighbors prayed for favorable winds.

I do love the smell of burning leaves though. I wonder if there’s a ‘burned leaves’ candle scent? There is a warm tobacco pipe scented candle, of which I have two. So much easier than loading one of my own.

Leave it be.

A couple of weeks have passed and our little house in the woods appears surrounded by an arbor nudist colony. The sun makes its appearance earlier through the barren branches rather than above them.

Now, on a cloudless night, the moon floats effortlessly in and through the forest. Hide and seek is more like seek and ye shall find. Why, last night, that great warm gray disc in the sky entered my peripheral several times. In an odd way I felt I was being surveilled. Maybe it’s the sun’s way of keeping an eye on us. That’s worth reflecting on, no?

How does God keep all the balls in the air? Sun? Moon? Our Mother Earth?

Leaves. Squirrel! Squirrel in the leaves. My mind seems as scattered as the roaming gang of leaves on a windy day.

Back to the task which took four separate days. A blower and an occasional rake shooed the maddening crowd onto the forest floor. The last of the gripping oak leaves I mulched with the mower. It is finished. Maybe. I survived the first fall here without being a fall guy. The labor was not in vain as my veins felt the rush of a heart pounding a bit harder. Light aerobics might be a good description.

Now I shall take my leave.  

Sunday Psalm

Who can stop the rain’s descent,

each tear formed and sent?

The H and the 2 and the O

banded as a trinity went


to play on leaves hung

on the air like a lung

in the spreading tree,

stepping down, rung to rung.


They patter like a soft timpani

off to the edge of the canopy

shushing our soul

and healing our atrophy.


The showers on their way

with a pelting fray.

Come, remind us then

of morning mercy’s display.


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul.” Lamentations 3:22-24


It wasn’t the father

who was a long way off,

but these days it seems so.

It’s as though the sons

wandered off in search

of the father.

Prodigals go and come

from either end,

then end up wondering

in the in-betweens.

I thought it was just me,

yet, ain’t nobody perfect.

Come to think of it,

we all need to know

how to stay, not stray.

The gig is up, and

honesty has us squinting,

longing has us looking.

The father figure

has us striving to

figure out who he is,

who we are.

I heard my dad…

“I know what you mean.”


“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off,

his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him,

and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

Deeper Still

Go down, step off

into the deep waters

they say…at least

they used to say.

Now we skip our

minds along the surface

hoping never to sink

into the unknown.

But is in the depths

where stillness sits

under the pressure of

context and history.

God holds my breath,

from beginning to end.

Every fear of drowning

exhaled to His lungs.

How I long to go down

Again and again–

each dive extended

in His presence.

Another Sunday

The wandering rise of morning light

Mingles in and through the crowns

Of oak and elm like broken speech.

The halting of a haunting while

This day breaks into pieces on the ground.

Light falling all around, resting on

Seemingly impenetrable surfaces.

Leave lie its’ yellow demure as it lay

in silent reflective yawns.

“Come. Recline. Bathe in my pouring.

Light loads I give you stretched

In Sabbath shine.”

The Birth of Motherhood

The first borne is a refocusing,

A wonderment which halves

Your heart in the mystery of it all.

Each half, if bonded together,

Is a doubling of your thrums,

And a healthy enlargement.

One little child is all it took.

You’re in a new identity.

We all see it, that cradling

Look you give over and over.

The center of gravity shifted,

And there you are swirling

round and round.

“What child is this?”

Is a daily question now…

Somewhat rhetorical,

Yet asked again and again

As if for the first time.

This is for all the new mothers and mother’s to be. Particularly Voilet, Kaleena, Chandra, and Sammy


In over the dark,

Light settled on the

Bone limbs of branches.

A covering sigh

Of winter’s last whisper.

An overcast came down

To surround our small

House in the wood.

Afternoon winds on the way

To dust off the etchings

Of grace, of the silence.

Yet, for now, I can

Rest my eyes on the

Cold insulation of a

Forest waiting for full

Spring, white to green.