Old Skool

My younger daughter is encouraging me to continue my education. I am actually considering it. The kids have flown the coop and I am not ready to be put out to pasture quite yet.

So I started slowly exploring it. Not even to complete a degree but because I am so very curious about things. Not calculus. No, not that. Other subjects. 🙂

My first on-line search was a nearby private, liberal arts university. Would be super convenient. I typed in the address to access their website. Was a bit dismayed when I found the description of their program that would suit an adult learner like me.

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I then started poking around the website. The errors in grammar and spelling throughout the site were more than a few.

Now, nobody’s perfect. I totally get that.

But I am allowed to make all the spelling mistakes in the world. Because I am a learner. Not an institute of learning!

Of course, I feel it’s my duty to let them know that their website needs some attention.

Side note: I also let a local long-standing brewery know that their web page needed a spelling correction. And kept the administrator of an author’s Facebook page in the loop when errors glared. Can’t help myself.

If someone has a business or product they want to sell then I think it absolutely needs to be done properly and professional. On-line or not.

It is no different than the receptionist at a Doctor’s office. It helps form the first impression and is a representation of your business. Or how you do business.

Now, let me git bak to explorring mi opchins for furtha edukacation.

 

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The Keys

We were recently in the North End of Boston. Very historical. Beautiful place. Fabulous weather. Good eats.

Passed by Paul Revere’s house on the way to a restaurant. About a block up, near a corner curb, there’s a bit of a crowd. Couple of older gents and ladies looking at the ground.

It just takes one, right?

A person looks up and we all look up because we are curious beings. A person looks down and we all look down because we are curious beings.

It’s a touristy area. Heavy foot traffic. At this point, foot traffic slows and everyone is looking down and asking, “What’s up?”

Or really more like, “What’s down?”

There is a sewer grate.

Everyone’s first thought is, “Oh good God, did their phone fall through the grate?”

Okay, maybe it was just my first thought.

But that is our society. Right or wrong. We can’t live without those phones.

Well, it wasn’t a phone.

It was the man’s car keys.

What kind of perfect storm is that? Keys dropped right into the sewer?

Oh, boy! Everyone who heard that sort of let out a sympathy groan. Tourist or local. Was like a collective groan.

You can lose your phone and get a new one. Totally stinks but it’s not the worst.

But your car keys? Dang. How are you going to get home? And maybe the house key attached?

A perfect Sunday in Boston for them. Until it wasn’t.

This little scenario rippled up the blocks.

Nope, it wasn’t a murder. Or a crime. But it rippled just the same.

I heard suggestions, “Call the city!”

And, “Call the cops!”

The next block up, a couple of waiters having a smoke outside the restaurant were like, “City ain’t gonna help ’em. Cops ain’t gonna help ’em.”

Matter of factly.

In my head I was like, “This is soooo New England.”

A few things struck me.

Everyone that passed by the man actually felt his pain. They put themselves in his shoes at that very moment. Because they could actually imagine themselves in that very same situation. Losing their keys in the sewer.

Dang. 

Everyone was sort of thinking, “Oh, the poor bugger. Thank God, it’s not me but I’m still feeling really bad for him. I’d like to help.”

There’s the rub.

If we can identify with a fellow human being who lost his car keys in a sewer grate then why can’t we identify with all of the others?

Why can’t we feel the pain of others? Put ourselves in a different pair of shoes for a moment? Actually imagine ourselves in the very same situation? It would even be okay to think, “Oh, the poor thing. It’s not me but I feel really bad. I’d like to help.”

That’s compassion. That’s humanbeingism at its best. Wouldn’t it be swell to see a bit more of the best?

 

 

The Fan

In my last posting I mentioned that I would share some “signs” I’ve received. From my father. Looking back I’d have to say the signs have been pretty amazing. Maybe someone thought I needed “spectacular” to be convinced.

June 14th was a lovely day. I took a drive to the cemetery where my father is now resting. Again, it’s me, myself and I. At least as far as my eye can see.

I pulled up near my Dad’s headstone. Did the usual. Greetings and a prayer.

As I wrapped up with a big amen (okay, it was a little silent amen) I turned from the grave and headed toward the car. I said (aloud because no one was near me and I wanted to hear my own voice), “Okay, Patrick, do your stuff. Give me something.”

So, as I am waiting, I take a few steps across the lane to look at other tombstones. Lots of folks from my growing up community reside in this cemetery. I like to read some of the different names or epitaphs. Sometimes pray for those I know. Maybe a parent or grandparent of an old friend or neighbor. I ambled over to one that had the last name “WORK” on it. Never heard that surname.

Dad used to say, “Hard work always pays off.”

But that’s not the sign.

I don’t think.

Anyway, within two minutes of me asking Dad for some magic, I spot something else! It’s about four graves down from the WORK tombstone. I can see that it is partially hidden by the last grave in the row. And it’s moving!

I should be afraid since I am totally alone. Not a person in sight. Could there be someone out of sight? A murderer? Or possibly a street urchin?

There is some type of fanning motion. Back and forth. What on earth? A geisha in the midst of a fan ceremony?

I start toward the grave to investigate. The thing starts to move away from the tombstone! I am hot on its trail. Not a bit afraid.

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Mystery solved.  Tom the turkey just taking things slow on a sunny afternoon.

The turkey spirit animal is a symbol of abundance. It is an encouragement to celebrate your resources that nourish your physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. The turkey symbolism brings the message of unlocking the richness of your life so that you can appreciate everything.

Thanks, Dad. Miss and love you.

 

Many More Signs

Hello, everyone! I hope everyone is doing just fine!

I am finally sitting down and doing a bit of writing. I CANNOT believe August is nearly gone even though I can see, with my own eyes, the sun setting earlier and earlier every evening.

I have been blessed and have enjoyed the summer months. Had lots of company, entertained, explored the outdoors, rode my bike, walked, read tons, attended plays, spent time with family and sometimes just walked the seashore with the surf creating white noise so I could still my mind.

My only regret is not putting all the thoughts in my head on paper these past few months. Enough to drive a person wacky with the gray matter congestion.

But, hey! No time like the present.

I have to be in the mood to write certain stories so the “Witches Tea” I stumbled upon in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont will have to wait for another day. It’s a good one. So just be patient.

My sister-in-law, Patty, lost her dad in March. So she’s been sharing a lot about being open to signs from those who have passed. She has received signs from both of her parents.

I have many friends who have also gotten signs from loved ones. They say, “Talk to them. Be open.”

I was feeling like, “Everyone else is getting signs from their people. What about me?”

Well, I always felt like I was open to receiving but here’s the thing. I actually received and continue to receive many signs. It didn’t appear that way because it just wasn’t enough for me. I was actually looking for more. I wanted to feel. Viscerally. Not just always look for a double meaning in a rainbow, animal or thunderstorm.

I wanted to feel my father’s presence but I really just wanted my father present. Sadly, the latter is not going to happen.

In a way, I finally realized I am not looking for a sign that my Dad is okay, in heaven and watching over me. Or that he loved me. I know that.

It all boils down to this. I miss him and wish he was still here. Simple as that.

Since my father died the only time I heard his voice was in a dream. It was a few days after he passed.  The last thing I heard before waking up that morning was him sounding very concerned.

He asked me, “Are ya alright? Are ya sick?”

I wasn’t sick. Well, yes, I suppose I was. Heartsick.

It is what it is.

So, I will share one of the many, many signs I’ve received from Patrick, my father. I will write about others in future postings.

I’m wondering if it’s his power or mine.

Here is one.

Every so often I will buzz into the cemetery to pay a quick visit to the ould man.

Last winter, it happened to be on very gray day with white stuff in the forecast. Snowfall was predicted to start in about three hours.

I was the only person in the cemetery. Popped out of the car, checked the headstone and said, “Hi” along with a short prayer.

Then I said, “Okay, Dad, feel free to give me a sign that you hear me. That you see me.”

In that moment, little white flurries appeared out of nowhere. In the spot where I was standing. Not a lot. And not everywhere. Just a few white snowflakes fluttering out of the sky.

Wow.

Then they stopped. As quickly as they started.

Were they even there? Did that even happen?

I went back into my car. Sat a few minutes. Then I got out, stood there and said, “Do it again.”

It happened again. Just a bunch of white flurries. In that same spot.

Sure, snow was in the forecast. Nope, not one witness. No accumulation.

Just a few flakes fluttering on me.

In my spot.

It’s never going to be enough. But it was enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was walking on the bike path a few months ago with a new friend. It was a brisk walk on a chilly day.

In the distance there was a man walking toward us with something on a leash. And it looked like the thing attached to the leash was wearing some sort of clothing.

I chuckle and say, “Oh my, look at that! It’s a big, old wooly sheep coming our way!”

Ginny laughed and said, “You have quite the imagination, don’t you? Have you written a book yet?”

Ummm, I can barely make hair appointments to get my gray roots covered! A book could get in the way of my commitment and time issues. So, the short answer to that is a no.

As we got a bit closer it became quite clear that the man was walking a greyhound (dog) and it was also wearing a jacket.

Totally looked like a wooly sheep to me. 🙂

Reminded me of another Edna St. Vincent Millay quote. The poet once shared with a friend, “I suffer from inflammation of the imagination!”

That’s the absolute best. Everyone should suffer from this ailment. Even just a little bit.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend with inflamed imaginations!

 

 

 

So many books. So little time. Still working on my 100 book challenge!

But it’s all good. I always learn something. Even if it’s not a great read.

Just recently I was reading another book about Edna St. Vincent Millay. I was, once again, reminded of her brilliance. And her care for women and human rights.

There was one quote of hers in this book that touched my heart.

Her beloved mother had just died. A friend was offering an expression of sympathy.

Vincent replied, “But there’s nothing to say. We had a grand time. But it’s a changed world. The presence of the absence is everywhere.”

Touched my heart.

Seeing Signs

My youngest daughter and I headed down to Florida two months ago. It was her Spring Break and she was looking forward to a respite from the Vermont weather. I was happy to be visiting with one of my brothers.

I like a day at the beach just as much as the next guy. But I also like to do a bit of exploring. So, on one of the days, I suggested visiting an orange grove. Because Florida has miles and miles of citrus farms. Plus I like orange juice.

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There were no tours on this particular day so we scoped out the place and sampled some of the different fruit slices that were being offered. Bought some freshly squeezed juice to bring home.

Leaving the grove we began a version of what my daughter calls, “Moose Hunting.”

You might ask, “What on earth is that?”

Here’s the short version. Said Mary never.

There are many signs posted all over New England highways.

Bear Crossing-Stay Alert

Moose Crossing-Stay Alert

Deer Crossing-Stay Alert

Or the one I observed this past weekend in Vermont.

Wildlife Crossing-Stay Alert

It’s like they (the sign makers) just sighed, gave up and lumped all the animals together. Lazy scuts.

Back to my point. For all of these roadside warnings it is very rare to see a moose.

Deer? Yes.

Bear? Maybe.

Moose? Nah.

They exist, for sure, but no one actually ever sees one.

Enough with the warnings already.

So when my daughter and her college friends go exploring it’s called, “Moose Hunting.”

Sort of like rambling.

Whoever is in the passenger seat will give directions. Knowing they won’t see a moose but keeping hope alive.

“Go left.”

“Go Straight.”

“Go right.”

In the end they will arrive at some random town/destination. It’s just a fun way to get out and explore.

On this day in Florida, my daughter was in the passenger seat as we we left the citrus farm.

She said, “Take a right.”

And then another right.

My brother follows her directions. Drives a bit.

There is a cemetery on the left hand side. He slows the car.

He says to me, “Because I know how you like cemeteries and history.”

What he actually thought was probably more along these lines, “As good a place as any to stop for a smoke.” 🙂

Looked like a nicely maintained cemetery. We drive in and pull to the side. Lots of trees dripping with Spanish Moss.

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We get out and stretch our legs. Have a look around the area.

There is a big tree with things on it. Signs that say “Truth” and “Respect.” Another one says something like, “Thief or SOB. Think before you steal from the dead.”

I’m not sure what all is going on with that tree.

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To the right of this tree is another one. This also has something posted. Looks like a “Reward” sign is nailed to it. We get a little closer to see what exactly it is.

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Oh my goodness. It is the unsolved murder of a young boy. His grave is behind the tree where the “Reward” notice hangs. His name was John Welles and he was killed in July of 2003.

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This town appears to be very small. Seemed like a few surnames dominated the cemetery. Probably the founding families of the town. Welles was one of the names.

It is always sad when a young person is taken too soon. But horrific when it is an act of violence. This poor family never having the opportunity for any type of closure. No one ever being held accountable for taking the life of their child. Someone getting away with murder. Sixteen long years for his loved ones.

We looked around the rest of the cemetery on our way out of there. Confederate flags provided a pop of color on some of the older graves.

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Took a last look and we were back on the road.

Now we were very curious to know more about what happened to poor John. Surely, there would be tons and tons of information on such a case. The killing of a young white boy from a small Southern town, descended from settlers, would most definitely be plastered all over the news. I imagined reading about on-going campaigns to reopen the case, reward offerings, articles, etc.

So, after dinner, we put Google to work. What we found was next to nothing. His obituary and one article from a “Most Wanted” type of site. Quoting his mom. That’s about it. Very, very strange.

His mother, after the murder, posted more than 350 notices on billboards in three counties asking people if they had tips to contact police. Apparently, it didn’t help at all.

John’s obituary here.

His mother’s plea here.

Seemed that John arrived home from Walmart that Sunday morning at 11:30am. Within five hours he was found dead in a creek near his house. It was originally thought to be a drowning but an autopsy showed that he was shot in the eye first and then put in the water.

How does something like this happen in a small town on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of summer? No one sees anything? No one knows anything? Why does there not appear to be any interest in solving the case?

So bizarre.

I did come across another article about a young man who was also found dead in the creek. About the same age as John. Found that to be a bit curious.

It is my sincere hope that one day John’s family will finally receive the answers and justice they truly deserve. That one day they can finally take down the sign.