The Tree Of Our Life

18 12 2011

This is going to be the last Christmas season we spend in our dream house. After the first of the year we will begin construction on our retirement home. It’s both exciting and a bit sorrowful to look at what 2012 will bring as far as changes in our lives.

When we put up the Christmas tree this year, Linda commented that our entire life was on display on that tree.  It took me a minute to understand what she meant–I never have been known as the shiniest marble in the bag.  As usual, she was right.  As I looked closely at the tree and decorations I saw the first ornament we bought after we were married.  Also, I spotted the first ornament we bought after we built this house.  All over the tree were some classic homemade or, should I say, school-made ornaments from the kids and grandkids in their pre-school and kindergarten days as well as several reminder ornaments we picked up on our travels.

In addition to those reminders of past experiences and past years, I saw all sorts of quilted, carved, blown and crocheted ornaments we had made for us over the course of our marriage and, the always-present, milk-bottle-top bells.  Those are the ones that really bring the symbolism of this tree into focus for me.

See, those were made by my parents in the first few years of their marriage back in the late 1940s and early 1950s when they were just too poor to buy store-boughten ornaments.  Back in the day, milk was delivered to the door in clear glass bottles with caps of thin red foil to keep in the freshness; these were what the bells were made from.  With this being the first Christmas in my life that neither of my parents are alive, I teared up as I hung them with care on the tree.  To me, they are more than just family Christmas ornaments.  Here again, these ornaments are symbolic.

My dad use to say that for most families it takes five generations of doing the right things to create family wealth–defined as your money working for you more than you working for your money– and just one generation to destroy that asset.  (I’m getting ready to step up on my soap box, so, ….)  I see these red-and-silver foil bells as a reminder of Linda’s and my obligation to past generations and future generations to build upon, protect and pass on the small amount of family wealth that has been accumulated.  I probably need to clarify here that as much as I value non-financial family wealth , I am referring to financial assets in this context.  Although, I must say that without the non-financial wealth, the dollars and cents wealth would probably not be possible to accumulate in any ethical, time-tested method.

This weekend we had what we call Family Christmas.  For over thirty years, the weekend before Christmas has been designated as Family Christmas.  I won’t go into the reasons for this other than to say they were based on a long-term vision.  The fact that ours is a multi-generationally blended family requires that dates other than December 24 or 25 be the time we get together with our four kids and their families.  Early on Saturday morning, prior to the rest of the family arriving and while Linda was getting a few well-deserved extra minutes of sleep, our youngest daughter and I had a conversation that is germane to this post.  I told her what my dad said about the building of family wealth and we discussed it within the context of the recent protests and political discussion of redistributing wealth.  Although the two of us are probably the poster children for the socio-phiolosphical chasm noted by a quote credited to Churchill that, “If you are not a liberal when you are young, you have no heart.  If you are not a conservative when you are old, you have no brain.”, we seemed to be on the same page about the subject of wealth earned through honest, hard work and playing by the rules.

I told her that the wealth we now have can be traced back at least four generations and that we, as a family, are on target.  With the recent inheritance we received from my parents’ estates we basically doubled our net worth.  As comforting and secure as that feels in these difficult times it is also a bit scary.  I know that if Linda and I don’t make sound financial decisions then the hard work of those previous four generation and our own decades of hard work, frugality and long-term planning will be for naught.

The foil bells are reminders to Linda and me of that obligation to stay focused on the long term rather than embracing the motto, “You only live once.”  As simple, true and tempting as that saying is, accepting it as our life philosophy would also an abdication of our responsibility to past generations never met and the never-to-meet future generations of our family.  As we see it, it is not our money to spend frivolously on ourselves.  Of course, in the case of family emergency, every last penny would be spent without a second thought except the gratitude to be in the position to deal with that emergency.

At this point, we could pretty much do whatever we would want to do–keep in mind we are simple people in our wants–without making much of a dent in the family wealth. (I apologize if that comes across as bragging or being arrogant; that is not my intent.  It is simply the dollars-and-cents reality of our balance sheet.) But, just when I think that living in the moment for the rest of our lives would be a good idea, I remember the foil bells, and, I’m okay with the middle path.

The other type of wealth that needs to be accumulated and passed on to future generations includes the value placed on a strong worth ethic, a pride in workmanship, education, an appreciation of family/community/state/national tradition, and the obligation to descendants that will never be met, along with a strong ethical/moral compass.  Without this kind of family wealth, the other kind makes little difference.

The ornaments on our tree seem to say to me, at least, that we, as a family, have done a good job thus far of accumulating both types of wealth.

-gw-

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To What End?

12 10 2011

Last weekend was an awesome family experience.  Along with our youngest daughter and her husband, Linda a I were in Chicago to support/encourage/root for/care for our oldest daughter who was running her first full marathon.  For those who do not have distance runners or triathletes in your family it may be difficult to understand why it is so important for family members, friends and loved ones to be there when someone runs that distance, especially when it is the first full marathon, ultra-marathon or triathlon.

Without going into the details of the whole experience we did what you should do to support the runner(s) and had some quality family time in a great large city.  Of course, there was a lot of time for conversations ranging from IU basketball to politics to food to finaces and, of course, blogging.

As many of you are aware, our youngest, Cass, is a big-time blogger–I mean BIG TIME. It’s her second full-time job and she has millions and millions of readers (that is not hype/exaggeration–she really does have multi-million followers of her blog, Back To Her Roots).  She and her husband, Craig, are the ones I always go to when I have questions about blogging and photography.

Anyways, over the weekend, I told her that I have written quite a few drafts for my blog over the last couple of months but have only posted one or two.  It seems like all I am doing in these drafts is rambling on about my thoughts–not a big stream-of-consciousness kind of guy–and have no real direction with what I want my message to be.  I guess I figure that I need to take into consideration my audience, as small as it is, and not upload posts that are basically self-serving and offer very little, if any, insights into me or my downhill view of the world.  When I look back on my past, most of the things that have gone terribly wrong in my life can be traced by to me being myopic and ego-centric.  That idea is fodder for a never-to-be-written autobiography, but my point is that I am very cautious about doing something that is purely self-servicing. Doing that has usually ended up biting me in the ass someway that I never saw coming.  I guess that is one of the more common outcomes of being self-centered. I’m still self-centered, i.e. selfish, but I am aware of it and try to compensate for it in hopes a being a better person.  Some days go better than others.  Thank goodness I have a wife and family who love me for what I am and in spite of what I am.

My daughter told me that being self-serving is one of the major motivations for people to blog in the first place.  I got thinking about what she said and quickly concluded that she is correct.  In my case, I started blogging as a means to deal with the emotional difficulties involved with taking care of my mother in the last year of her life. I knew going in that it would be a taxing experience but what are you going to do.  I believe that people should do the right thing even if they don’t want to or it takes a toll on them–knowing what is the right thing to do seems to be the challenge for most of us. I wanted to have some sort of chronological record of my emotional evolution through those months in order to look back and, hopefully, learn something I could apply to my life as well as pass on some wisdom to my kids.  The blog seems to have served me well in that aspect.  The same thing could have been accomplished with a journal but, hey, why not share the insights; they might help someone else to exorcize his or her demons.

All of this brings me to the point of this post.  We are getting ready to go to Maine in the morning for a well-deserved vacation and many people have told me to make sure I post to my blog about our experiences.  I am not sure I will do that.  Not because I don’t want to share–well, maybe a little–but rather because I don’t think I will have anything worth sharing.  In other words, to what end?  I will be taking my laptop and camera but I don’t know if I will be posting next week or ever again.

-gw-





Did You Read The Book?

24 09 2011

As a long-time English teacher I taught all kinds of literature, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Mark Twain and John Steinbeck to Stephen King and Dan Brown to Ingmar Bergman and Quentin Tarantino.  Over the years, I taught Film as Literature numerous times.  One of the biggest challenges in that class is getting students to understand that reading the original novel and seeing the film adaptation is a similar but not identical experience; each is a work in and of itself.

A prime example of this would be the film adaptation of the novel, Forrest Gump.  For those who have read the book and have seen the film, you know exactly what I am referring to.  As critically acclaimed and well done as the film was, the character of Gump, as portrayed by Tom Hanks, and his experiences fall short by quite a distance of the standard set by the character and storyline of the novel.  Both are outstanding pieces of literature but to think that you know the story of Forrest Gump after seeing the film is simply a false assumption.

However, in some cases, the film and the original novel are so similar that experiencing one is nearly synonymous with experiencing the other.  An example of this would be Dances With Wolves.  Outside on some sequencing changes and the deletion of one minor scene involving masterbation, the story lines and the characters are the same.

With all my experience in the comparison of the written word and its film adaptation, I accompanied my wife to see a newly released movie in a theater recently.  Linda and I have not been to a movie, other than taking the grandkids to see Kung Fu Panda 2, in several years.  Yes, we went on a date–dinner and a movie.  We went to see The Help.  We both absolutely fell in love with the novel and were not disappointed with the film as is normally the case once I read the book first.  Besides outstanding acting and particular attention being paid to the detail of the setting, the actors and actresses cast in the roles were, unlike Tom Hanks as Gump, nearly perfect in matching up with their counterparts from the novel.  It made for a truly enjoyable experience for both of us. I found it funny that we did not discuss the plot or setting of the film but the actors and actresses and how there surely had to be some Academy Award nominations for them in the near future.

I know that it can be difficult for a screenwriter and a director to adapt some novels to the big screen and maybe that is reason enough that they should not try.  Over and above that, I think a lot of people do themselves a real disservice by not reading the novel since it is the original work and only settle for the film version.  I cannot begin to count the number of people I know who read Forrest Gump after seeing the film and came away with an entirely different perspective on the story–nearly all of them saying they enjoyed the novel much more than the film.

I suppose that the lesson in life here is that a person should always try to go to the source, the origin, when determining if that thing is worth the time, money and effort.  I know that is not always possible but it does seem like a good philosophy to try and follow in life.  If the original is still in use/commerce, then there must be a reason. In our disposable society with new smart phones coming out every couple of months, it has to say something about a product, business, location or experience that can stand the test of time.  What makes a classic classic?  I think it has to do with appealing to people of different generations and to people at multiple times throughout their lives.

Perspective gained by experience allows a person to appreciate some experiences in different ways at different phases of life.  That might even help explain why so many of us “old folks” have evolved to what on the surface would appear to be a paradoxical view of life and other members of society.  Many of us (unfortunately, not enough though) have developed a low tolerance for fools while at the same time seeing the wisdom of a live-and-let-live attitude.  If the fools’ actions don’t impact me or my loved ones then hooray for the fools–of course, I have digressed but that is one of the advantages of being old; it’s expected.  After all, like Gump, I am an original.

-gw-





Dorothy Was Right

7 08 2011

Well, we’ve been back home for about a month now and I have a renewed appreciation for Broken Plow.  We are starting to come to an understanding with Mother Nature.  I learned a long time ago that the old gal allows man, as an individual and as a species, only a relatively short time period to make his temporary mark on her planet.  Any other view of man’s place in the natural world is arrogant and misinformed.

I really appreciate getting back into our routine of sitting by the fish pond in the morning as we drink coffee and watch the sunrise and then sipping our day-enders of gin-and-tonic in the evening.  I have often thought that many couples who struggle with communication issues need to have some place like our fish pond.  A place where peace and quiet can be found and the pressures of the outside world with family obligations and professional demands are put on a shelf at least for the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee or favorite adult beverage.  When something of consequence comes up during the day that does not demand an immediate decision, we will say, “We’ll figure it out in the morning/this evening.”  We both know where that discussion and decision will take place.  Some of the most important and best decisions we have ever made in our lives came about while sitting beside that pond.

The one thing that has surprised us is the fact that our nine-month stay in Princeton and the two and a half years prior to that have taken more of a toll on us physically, emotionally and intellectually than we realized when we first got home; we both have very little endurance on multiple levels.  Regardless, we know we are healing, slowly but surely.  And, yes, Dorothy was right.

We have known for years that we are home bodies much more than we like to admit and we are okay with that.  In fact, I think people should feel fortunate if they can draw strength and some degree of inner peace from the place they call home.  How many people in this world would choose to be somewhere other than where they are either short term or long term?  Ours is a place that is not only filled with memories but with promise of memories yet to be made.

When we first walked the lines of the property before we bought it back in 1981, we both seemed to sense that the brambles, weeds and fallen trees hid something special; we saw what it would become not what it was.  We have had a love affair with one another and with Broken Plow for over thirty years.  That love affair with our home place will make a second transition in early spring next year when we move into a newly-built retirement home on the other side of the lake as we look forward to our second set of Glory Days.

As I wrap up, I want to acknowledge the photographic work of our youngest son-in-law, Craig Johnston, whose pics are featured in this post.  Over and above his obvious talent as a photographer, I am constantly amazed how he seems to be able to capture the spirit that is Broken Plow. His eye for the details, both natural and man-made, has made me realize that our place is special not only to us but also to those who are fortunate to spend many happy hours here. Check out his eclectic blog, http://todayisforever.net/   and his amazing Etsy store,  http://www.etsy.com/shop/johnstonphotograph

 

CORRECTION: I just received an email from Craig informing me that the pictures included with this post were all taken by his wife and our youngest daughter, Cass.  Still ,check out his blog as well as hers, http://backtoherroots.com/

-gw-





Understanding the Present Through the Past

2 05 2011

May 2, 2011 may not be a date that many Americans will remember as historic but the event that took place yesterday will live in the psyches of millions for the rest of their lives.  On May 2, 2011, a group of US Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.  He has been on our radar since the late 1990s because his involvement in the bombings of U.S. embassies and the U.S.S. Cole.  To paraphrase what Shakespeare wrote in MacBeth, “Vengeance (and justice) is a dish best served cold.”

Being a student of history I thought about what parallel from the past might best be used to understand the significance of this event.  I believe the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto’s plane on April 18, 1943 would be the most similar.  Although, unlike the killing of OBL, the American people were not made aware of Yamamoto’s demise until much later in the war.  Our intelligence service cracked the Japanese code and learned of Yamamoto’s flight plan and schedule.  Had that information been made public at the time, the Japanese military would have known their code was compromised. Our military continued to eavesdrop on the Japanese undetected for a long time.

I think where the real similarities come into play is that December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001 are the only two times in modern history that the United States has been attacked on its own soil.  Both attacks were surprise attacks and both events rallied Americans of all stripes to come together with a common purpose to defeat a common enemy. Yamamoto was the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor and OBL was the driving force behind the attacks on 9/11.

As is the case with most Americans, I remember clearly where I was on September 11, 2001.  I was proctoring an ISTEP test for a group of 9th graders.  Towards the end of the first session of testing on that morning, the Asst. Principal knocked on the classroom door and told me to keep the students in the room at the end of that testing session and only allow one student at a time to go to the restroom and then with an adult chaperone.  Obviously, I knew that some sort of security issue had come up but the Asst. Principal did not elaborate.

As the events of the morning of 9/11 were unfolding, the concern for our school was to make sure that nothing made the state-mandated testing invalid because of the distraction.  As it turned out, that was a wise decision.  Several schools across the state had to throw out their test results and start all over.

Those 9th graders in 2001 are now adults, many with children of their own.  Several of them are in the military or have spouses in the military.  For them, the War on Terrorism has been present for their entire adult lives.

Later that afternoon, in the American Studies class, we decided to scrap the approved curriculum and take advantage of the learning opportunity.  The learning curve for the teachers was as steep as the one facing the students.  Learning the correct pronunciation of words like Taliban, Al Qaeda and jihad as well as getting a rudimentary understanding of Islam was a challenge.  Also the challenge of helping 11th graders to understand that the world would never be the same while at the same time encouraging them to pay attention to what was going on seemed overwhelming.  We worked on trying to answer their questions; part of which were clearly based in honest curiosity while many of the questions were simply efforts to assure themselves that they were safe sitting in a Southern Indiana classroom.

If I was not in my current situation in Princeton I would make a point to return to that American Studies classroom and listen to the discussion today.  Over the last ten years it has been easy to lose sight of what is going on with the true War on Terrorism because for most Americans, myself included, outside a a bit of inconvenience at the airport, little has changed in our personal lives since 9/11.

Living through  the anti-Vietnam War era and watching the news this morning, I admit that it was good to see people come together as Americans, not partisans.  We bitch and moan at each other over domestic issues but it is times like this that many of us feel our unity of purpose most.  Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech also comes to mind today.  In a small way, the killing of OBL by our military seems to help, to a greater or lesser degree, our ability to have “freedom from fear.”

WWII went on for another eighteen months after the killing of Yamamoto and the War on Terrorism will continue long after the death of OBL.  Still, this is a milestone and it sends a message that should not be misunderstood by the world.  Even with the wide ideological gap between President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, there is solidarity in the resolve of our people, our military and our political leaders that there is no place where those who attack America can hide.

Just my thoughts.

-gw-





History and Truth

11 02 2011

Napoleon is credited with saying, “History is a myth men have agreed upon.” I have always found this quote to be curious on several levels.  A related quote, uttered by Winston Churchill proclaims that, “History is written by the victors.”  Again, multiple levels of meaning in this quote.

I proudly confess to being a hopelessly addicted history junkie.  If I knew then what I know now I would have majored in American Studies and then gone on to Law School with the hopes of teaching Constitutional Law at the college level rather than majoring in English.  I’m still giving strong consideration to going back and getting another Master’s Degree, but this time in American History.  My wife and I have talked about how interesting it would be to blend our travel plans with research trips over the three or four years it would take to earn the degree part time.  As an adjunct faculty member I can take classes at half tuition.  We’ll see what happens over the next year or so–but I digress.

The fascinating thing to me about history or should I say histories is that in the present day we do not have the total and complete truth of events.  That is not to imply that current day historians/authors are being intentionally deceptive; I just don’t think we have all the facts.  Quite often we view the past based on the evidence we have and from that evidence we draw conclusions that may be logical but not necessarily accurate.

A prime example of this disconnect between history and truth was uncovered back about four years ago in my home county.  As part of the process to plan and build a bypass around the county seat of Salem, a required archeological survey was conducted on the land that would be used for the roadway.  This is a normal procedure and was simply a formality, another hoop to jump through, before federal and state approval and funding would be granted.  Well, guess what; that archeological survey turned out to be anything but a formality.

After surveying over 95% of the land that would be used for the bypass, the final location to be surveyed was the area for the proposed interchange between the new bypass and Indiana Highway 56 that connects to the interstate. In that less that an acre area, the archeologists found all sorts of artifacts in their core samples, including bones.  Suddenly, this mundane procedure that everyone assumed would be completed in a couple of months turned into a major archeological dig lasting nearly three years that challenged “the myth men have agreed upon.”

See, according to the widely-held belief of most Native American historians, Southern Indiana was not a location of permanent residency for any tribe.  The common belief was that Miami, Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Shawnee tribes all hunted in and passed through the area but none claimed the territory as their own and agreed that it would be common hunting grounds.

The first white settlers came into the area in the pre-Revolutionary War era. According to their accounts, Native Americans only passed through the area and did not have permanent villages or communities established.  The discovers at the location of the proposed interchanged blew that “historical fact” right out of the water.

According to the chief archeologist in charge of the dig and several university professors of archeology, this find was one of the most significant in Indiana’s history.  It completely debunked the dominant thinking of pre-European-contact indigenous peoples and would cause the experts to go back to other digs across the Midwest to reassess their conclusions.

I wrote extensively about the dig and the implications of the discoveries when I was a feature writer for a Southern Indiana paper and won’t go into all the fascinating details of what was discovered except to say that carbon-dating placed the artifacts of a settlement estimated at over one thousand inhabitants somewhere in the 13th-14th centuries.  None of the artifacts matched with tribes previously thought to be in the region.

More will be done at the site that extends outside of the area to be used by the bypass but that will have to wait for additional funding.  Only the southern-most part of the ancient settlement was excavated by the archeologists to make room for the interchange.  Literally, thousands of artifacts were unearthed and catalogued.

On another interesting writing assignment I tagged along with historian, Dana Olsen, and a independent film crew producing a documentary for National Geographic.  We were exploring an area along the Ohio River as part of research into the Welsh prince, Madoc, and the possibility of him and/or his followers/descendants establishing a fort overlooking the river in the 11th-12th centuries.  As we treked through the underbrush, I struck up a conversation with another member of our group, a professor from Ohio University, who apparently is an expert on the Mound Builders. He said something that put the whole history and truth relationship in perspective for me.

He said, “In archeology, there is evidence and there is proof.  Proof cannot be disputed; it is what it is.  Evidence can be interpreted and, therefore, subject human error and bias.”  He went on to say, “Thus far, carbon-dating and DNA are the only two things that are proof, everything else is evidence.”

When I think about history, both as an observer and a participant, I believe that most of what we take as historical fact is based on evidence, not truth.  That does not mean that the conclusion we have come to based on the evidence is in error, just subject to revision when either new evidence is presented or proof is provided that disputes the previous conclusion.

I think this litmus test of truth is something that I have been going through over the last five years in regards to my past life (I’m not using the term in the sense of reincarnation but I do find that an interesting and plausible theory) when I viewed the world and myself in a way based on the evidence I had at the time.  The fact that not all the evidence was made available to me because of my parents’ desire to protect me and the Catholic Church’s efforts to act as a travel agent for guilt trips, I came to erroneous conclusions about how things were and would be.

Without revealing all the details of the incident for reasons I’ll reveal some day down the road, five years ago I lost my temper in a way that I could not explain.  I did not lash out physically but I knew at the time that I had never experienced that level of rage in my life; my anger was over the top.  I knew I needed professional help to sort it out; my feelings were totally disproportionate to the seriousness of the incident.  After telling my wife about the incident and my quandary, she agreed that I should probably see a therapist.

It only took three sessions–I was willing and the therapist was good–to sort it out.  Up to that point, I had always described my life growing up as a Leave it to Beaver experience.  After a few targeted questions from the therapist, I had my Come-to-Jesus moment.  Hell, no!  My life growing up was not what I thought it was.  Once I understood what it was, I understood why the first four decades of my life were so unfulfilling as far as my own self-worth and my lack of an objective self-esteem. Damn, the lights went on!

For many years before the day of that epiphany in the therapist’s office I had changed the way I looked at the world, myself and the people in my life.  I think that is one of the things I am most thankful to my wife for–she helped to save me from myself.  I knew that what I was doing in the early part of my adult life was not working and if I wanted to succeed I had to change; I just didn’t know how.  I found out from Linda that changing my behavior would change my attitude and that, in turn, would start a flywheel effect resulting in personal satisfaction and happiness.  I just compartmentalized those early years along with the pain and sense of failure that went along with them.  I guess it all erupted in that incident when I went into a rage. I am still struggling with objectivity and trying not to be resentful as I view those early years but I am more comfortable with the truth about them.  You cannot correct your mistakes if you don’t think you are making any.

The last five years of my life and my future have been and will be dedicated to reconciling my personal history and my personal truth.

-gw-





Choices and Trade Offs

7 02 2011

My favorite seasons of the year are unquestionable Spring and Fall.  It’s not that I dislike Summer and Winter, it’s just that weather conditions can get so severe and last for an extended period of time in these seasons.

As Linda and I plan our glory days, we have often discussed how nice it might be be spend extended time throughout the year in at least three different locations.  Beginning shortly after New Year’s Day, the idea of being a snowbird in the Florida Keys seems, at least on the surface, to hold a lot of promise for us. Returning to Southern Indiana sometime around the first of April would allow us to start getting ready for gardening season in the spring.

After the Fourth of July, an extended stay up on the northern Great Lakes until late August would get us out of the sweltering heat and humidity  so characteristic of the Ohio Valley.  We would return home in time to begin harvesting and preserving the garden bounty and then viewing the annual show put on by the hardwoods as they prepare for winter.

I think we could get use that that lifestyle–I would at least like to try it.  If we don’t like it, we can change.  The choice would be ours.

As far as winter is concerned there are only two issues that I might miss but I have no doubt we could adapt for–watching the birds at the bird feeder along with building fires in the fireplace.  I think a traveling bird feeder or two strategically placed in our Keys yard would attract the birds but I don’t know about the wood fires on cold winter mornings.  I guess everyone has to make sacrifices.

All the little things that are so special about summer could probably still happen up on Traverse Bay or Whitefish Bay. Being able to sit outside and have coffee as I watch Venus ascend and melt into the glow of dawn is something I truly treasure–some of the best “think time” I have.

The multi-location plan also cuts into the time spent with family but we would just have to make sure that we have a lot of visitors at the beach each winter and summer.

I guess we are at a good place in life where we do have many more choices of how we want to spend our time, money and our energy than when we were younger.  Of course, like most really good parts of life, it is important not to take this freedom for granted and piddle it away.  It’s a time to learn, grow and share as we experience the things that make life worth living.  I hope that Mellenkamp was wrong when he sang, “Oh, yeah, life goes on; long after the thrill of living is gone.”  That would really suck.

One of the pearls of wisdom that my dad passed on to me is that a person can do anything he wants to do; he just cannot do everything he wants to do at the same time.

I think that is a pretty good piece of advice to follow as Linda and I get ready for our next phase.

-gw-