This Year Is No Different, But It Is

It was last night that I  realized that this will be the first Thanksgiving since 1978 that I haven’t talked to Tom and/or Nancy Hartmann while listening to Alice’s Restaurant.


Tom & Nancy, 1972.

During my late teens and early twenties and when not away at college, I probably spent more time at their house than I did at my parent’s. I learned many skills from Tom & Nancy and we had a special bond at several levels.

Tom died after a short illness in 1995 (on their 25th Wedding anniversary) and Nancy died this past February.  Their three children, two that I held as babies, are grown with their own families. How time flies.

Tom and Nancy introduced me to the tradition of listening to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restuarant each Thanksgiving. I haven’t missed once and I still have the vinyl LP that Tom gave me.

Each year since I started blogging in 2010, I have mentioned Tom, Nancy and the song each Thanksgiving.

This year is no different, but it is.

I have never had a relationship with anyone like I did with Tom and I still miss him terribly. The least I can do is spend eighteen and a half minutes, one day a year in their honor.

Here is to Tom and Nancy, may their memories be eternal and I hope that wherever they are, they are having a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat.


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Light & Moisture

This is an actual spider’s web in our yard, photographed this morning.

The rising sun, coupled with last night’s dewfall made for a pretty cool photograph

The spider was nowhere to be found.


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Two, Unrelated Events

What a great day!

Our daughter Elissa closed the deal and was hired today to fill an unexpected, immediate vacancy at a Catholic School near where she now lives.  Starting Monday, she will be back teaching kindergarten. An interesting note is that one of her aunts attended that school almost 50 years ago. More interesting is the fact that the principal that hired Elissa today was her kindergarten teacher, at the  Catholic School on the other side of the city, back when we first moved to SC in 1996.

How cool is that?


  th-2I stopped at our local Home Depot this afternoon to return an item and while there, I ran into one of the firefighters that helped FTO (orient)  me when I stopped volunteering and started working part-time for the Aiken Public Safety Fire Division, back in 2005. A retired Dallas, TX Mounted Police officer, he came back to his hometown of Aiken and got hired on as an engineer/driver-operator.  He’s a salty guy (a compliment to a firefighter) and we always got along at work. He was a good teacher and like me, he has a very low tolerance for foolishness and lack of commitment.

Back in the days when I was a CWP (concealed weapons permit) instructor, his wife went through my course and when one of their sons died, even though it happened halfway across the Country, I was given the honor of coordinating his care.

We spent close to an hour reminiscing near the customer service desk and the lady behind the counter seemed to enjoy listening to us getting caught up.

Two, unrelated events that remind me how fortunate I am because of the people in my life.


Fortunate indeed.

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That Time Of Year

It is cold and damp in usually warm and dry South Carolina.


A good day to curl up and listen to some music in the office and take a nap.


Our “Thanksgiving Holiday” is in two days and this will be the first time in countless years that our family of five will be together for the day.

Earlier this morning, I saw a post from David Kanigan entitled Autumn.

It instantly reminded me of a song from the iconic album,  “They Only Come Out at Night”  by the Edgar Winter Group.  Forty-five years old, but if it was released today, there would probably be more hits from it then there were back in the day.

Autumn is the only acoustic track on an album full of party music.

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My Hope

This hit my “inbox” this morning and think I read it a dozen times since then.

See, the Internet isn’t only trash and poison.


Cole (with his halo) and Elissa

I sent this to Elissa and Cole with notes to each, hoping that they will use this as a foundation for their upcoming marriage.  To everyone else, imagine how much better our relationships could be if we just picked  3 or 4 of the 26 and consciously applied them?  All 26? The world would be transformed.

Thank you, Fr. Thomas Moore for sharing this.

Yes, there are references to faith and the genuine practice and commitment of that faith.  Even if faith is missing from your life, do not use that as an excuse to overlook these words of wisdom.

My Hope:

  1. Do everything with love and prayer.
  2. Always see yourself and your spouse as partners on the road of life, the path to holiness, the journey to the Kingdom of Heaven.
  3. Be faithful in morning and evening prayers together, no matter how brief, as far as possible; and be faithful in attendance at church. Remember, husbands, that as the head of the family, the spiritual and material well-being of your home is ultimately your responsibility.
  4. Conflict resolution: find a way to resolve conflicts as soon as possible. Perhaps this will mean letting the one who feels the most strongly about a situation have the final say about it.
  5. Ask forgiveness whenever something comes between you, no matter how small or large.
  6. When your spouse is talking to you, really listen, with full attentiveness. Demonstrate that you have really listened by responding accordingly with your mind and your heart.
  7. Always keep your word to each other, and give a full explanation and apology whenever you’re not able to.
  8. Do your daily chores and other jobs around the house faithfully, even cheerfully, without having to be reminded, as a way of serving God through serving your family.
  9. Have regular weekly family meetings/conferences to discuss issues of common concern; this is more important with children as they get older.
  10. Consistently do little things that you know will please your spouse, even if it takes an extra effort.
  11. Find out from your spouse the ways that he/she feels the most loved, and consistently express your love for him/her accordingly, even if the ways your spouse feels most loved are different from the ways you feel most loved.
  12. In addressing your spouse, frequently use a term of endearment, as St. John Chrysostom advises.
  13. Whenever your spouse does or says something that irritates you, quickly ask the LORD to help you love him/her more at that moment, and then talk it out! And maintain your inner peace, no matter what!
  14. As far as possible, fulfill requests made by your spouse as quickly and thoroughly as you can—even if you think they are unreasonable. This is a big part of marital asceticism.
  15. Be fine with being interrupted by your spouse or children. Accept it as an opportunity to die to your own self and to serve the ones you love. This is more marital asceticism.
  16. Whenever you are away from home, stay in contact with your spouse as much as is reasonably appropriate.
  17. Make sure to have regular substantial times for just the two of you, especially if you have children at home; having a “date night” every week or two is ideal.
  18. Make sure to remember your wedding anniversary, and your spouse’s birthday and namesday, and celebrate accordingly.
  19. Tell your spouse you love him/her several times each day, and give frequent hugs and kisses.
  20. Be quick to say “Thank you,” even for mundane things.
  21. Be slow to criticize, and never criticize your spouse with exaggeration or scorn; and never criticize him/her in front of someone else.
  22. When your spouse is sick or hurt in any way, be extra-tender and solicitous towards him/her.
  23. Don’t wish your spouse were different; try even to enjoy his or her foibles! If he/she is involved with some form of ungodliness, pray for him/her, and gently help him/her back towards Christ.
  24. Truly take delight in all the wonderful things about your spouse; rejoice in the fascinating male/female complementarity that you are partaking of so intensely.
  25. Have at least one icon in every room in your house, as reminders of your calling to center every aspect of your marriage in Christ, and to be in constant communion with the saints and angels.
  26. Always remember the tremendous glory and honor of marriage, and every day ask Christ and the Married Saints to help you and your spouse to fulfill this exalted calling in all the ways He desires for you to do so.

And the people say, “Amen.”

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Movember Poem

There are some studies that show more men dying of prostate cancer each year than women dying of breast cancer. The “Ta-Ta’s” definitely have better marketing people.

Let’s “keep the conversation going” by reading and passing on this poem by my buddy, Andrew Reynolds, a prostate CA survivor.

Andrew's View of the Week


Razor scrapes face clean.
Towel dries tears.
Lip quivers at the memory.
Eyes face the past,
while throat prepares to cry
into the future.

A budding soup-strainer
starts the conversation.
Stubble opens ears.
Lips speak of,

Passion, and compassion.

A fuzzy lipped community speaks
of the possibilities.
Of hope for the day when
we no longer raise a
hand to dry a tear
for the brother felled by this

This is a special request poem from a man who is participating in the Movember Men’s Health awareness and fundraise for research for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.  How it works is that a man will start the month clean-shaven and then let their mustache grow.  Participants in the month work to rise awareness and funds.  The growing stubble is a great conversation starter.

Personally I am not growing a mustache.  When…

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Permit Required?

(Be sure to click on the link to the blog to see more than the first picture)

I’m hoping that the county animal control officer doesn’t show up and tell me we need a permit to have a petting zoo at our home.

We had a full house this weekend, including two extra dogs.  Great fun and everyone seemed to get along.

Try to get six dogs to hold still for a moment to catch a photo. It takes patience.

Now if I could only find a way to monetize dog poop.



“Niko, are we almost there yet?”




Big Red & MacKenzie at the door,  Maggie, Selby & Snickers in the middle and then Martha checking out the yard.



Snickers & Maggie testing the blow-up mattress.





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T- Minus 55 Days And Counting

Yesterday was Elissa’s & Cole’s “Jack n’ Jill” wedding shower. It was the first time I had ever heard of the term, but there is a first for everything, right? For those of you who do not know, it is a shower, where both male and females attend.

The party was held at the new home of a close family friend.  When I say new, they just moved in last week.

Several family members flew in for the weekend and a good time was had by all.  We also had our three daughters and “their men” all together for the first time, along with six dogs.   I was waiting for the Aiken County Animal Control officer to stop by and check for my zoo permit. Luckily, everyone, (men and dogs) got along.

Kelliann’s friend Trey took a few pictures and I noticed that my daughter is marrying a saint. . .  he already has a halo!





Me and my girls.





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President Donald Trump invited the Pope for lunch on his yacht.  The Pope accepted and during lunch, a puff of wind blew the Pontiff’s hat off, right into the water.
UnknownIt floated off about 50 feet, then the wind died down and it just floated in place.
The crew and the secret service were scrambling to launch a boat to go get it when Trump waved them off, saying, “Never mind, boys, I’ll get it.”
The Donald climbed over the side of the yacht, walked on the water to the hat, picked it up, walked back on the water, climbed into the yacht and handed the Pope his hat.
The crew was speechless. The security team and the Pope’s entourage were speechless. No one knew what to say, not even the Pope.
That afternoon, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN reported:
“And that’s the way it is.”
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What Are You Reading?

I’ve pulled out a book I first read about 10 years ago and am starting it again. It seems to me to be a timely topic.

Gratitude, Reflections on What We Owe To Our Country

by William F. Buckley, Jr.


William F. Buckley, Jr.


 The instability of family life, listlessness at school, a growing national tendency to corruption, or hedonism; an insensitivity to suffering; a callousness that breeds ugliness of behavior . . . I think that one such affliction is the failure to acknowledge a running debt to one’s homeland.

   The points  raise will disturb some “conservative” presumptions as also some commonly thought of as “liberal.” I have, in any event, the obligation to explore the social  meaning of duty.

   That which makes a man a stranger to his father makes him also a stranger to his brother . . . What severs the cords binding the generations also snaps the web that unites contemporaries.

   Many Americans . . . see themselves surrounded by intensifying illiteracy, amorality and anomie. The lessons of misspent federal philanthropy are absolutely vital when considering national service. But they do not and never can undermine the absolutely secure conviction that the man or woman who helps someone who needs help is better off for the experience.

th-1   I am not conversant with the literature of clinical psychology, and do not intend to become so. But I sense intuitively that while friendship does not necessarily grow out of experience shared, experience shared conduces to a bond from which friendship can grow.

   National service, like gravity, is something we could accustom ourselves to and grow to love.

One thing about reading a “Buckley book” is that you need to have a dictionary by your side as you are bound to read words you have never heard before.

What are you reading?

Posted in Observations, Philosophy, Politics, Social Commentary, Uncategorized, What are you reading? | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments