Testing, Testing

19 04 2017

This week, as part of my duties as vice president of standards for the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, I chaired a Master Artisan jury session – a formidable event for jurors and candidates alike. (For details on this, visit https://www.pacrafts.org/our-guild/master-status)  It brought back memories of my experience on the applicant side of the equation.

How long had it been since I looked at the work that earned me Master status? How would those pieces look to me now, after all those years? I’ll admit, I was a little more than nervous, but I hung the works together and stepped back.

Damn. While they are not representative of my current work, they are part of me. They still speak to that place I was when I created them.

I am humbled and honored to chair this year’s Master Artisan jury sessions.  Remembering what it feels like to take the test helps make better teachers. I will not forget.

Regularly Scheduled Maintenance

12 04 2017

My neighbor’s mother-in-law is in the hospital.

She has pneumonia.

She’s been under the weather for weeks, but refused to see a doctor – until she saw one in the ER a few nights ago.  She is not elderly; probably early sixties. She is stubborn.

When my neighbor shared that news, it was not, by itself, particularly interesting; it’s what he said next that caught my ear.

“As soon as my wife got home from getting her mother settled into her room at the hospital, I called my mom to thank her for taking such good care of herself.” 

What a thoughtful thing for a son to do.

What a thoughtful thing for a parent to do.

Many of my friends and family are proven fine care-givers, going to great lengths to assure the comfort and well-being of those whom they love.  They, upon gentle reminding, have come to recognize that they deserve the same care and consideration that they show others.

Thank you to my mother and my sister, who are amazingly generous and strong women, for understanding that one way to show their love for the rest of us is to keep themselves in good running order.  I am grateful that, no matter when I might need you, your tank is always full and your motor’s humming.

April Foolishness

5 04 2017

Someone once described Spring Fever as that time of year when the iron in your blood turns to lead in your ass.  Sounds about right to me.

After a few weeks of March meteorological mayhem, today was breathtaking. It was one of those days when the air is the perfect temperature, the sky finds maximum blueness, the sun is properly warm – you know, one of those days when you can just feel the energy of the new season all around you.  Guess that’s what makes me feel so lazy –  it’s all the hard work being done by birds, bulbs, and buds all around me. I’m worn out by proxy!

Okay, maybe I left out a little of the story, like this morning, when I raked 500 gallons of leaves out of my perennial beds so I could see these happy little promises of more beauty to come.  Maybe I understated the effort made to keep the feeders filled all winter long, so the birds might choose my yard to nest. I could have overlooked the careful pruning, cutting back, dividing, and otherwise babying of the plants I love.

Proxy Schmoxy!  I’m just plain worn out!

April, you are exhausting, but you are worth it. When you smile, you are pure beauty. Tomorrow . . . well that’s another story . . . we all know what a crybaby you can be.  Whether you’re sunny or gloomy, I love you, April. You are always filled with promise and that’s enough for me.


Ain’t Baseball Great?!

29 03 2017

Washington, DC.

If you see or hear that phrase regarding anything that resembles news, it’s almost assuredly not good right now.  That’s about to change though, in just a few days.

 April 3rd is Opening Day at Nationals Park!

I love the Washington Nationals.

I used to be a Phillies fan, but the year they decided to let Jayson Werth go to pick up some pricy pitching, it just felt wrong – like they were trying to buy a pennant – so I did what anyone in my (bizarrely tuned sense of fair play) state of mind would do.  I began to follow the worst team in my television broadcast area – and the team that picked up Werth – the Nationals.

Fast forward a few seasons, and the Nats are no longer the worst; they are dizzyingly great.  I can’t wait for the first regular season game.  I know that many of you can’t imagine watching a baseball game, much less planning a lot of your summer around when the Nats are on TV, so let me explain:

Top Ten Reasons I Love the Washington Nationals

10. Jaw-dropping speed and power – that’s the obvious one.

9.   Tony Two-Bags (Anthony Rendon) smiles the whole time he is at bat.

8.   Jayson Werth – Big Hairy Man who’s 37 years old but seems not know that about himself.

7.  “There goes the no-hitter!”  FP and Carp in the MASN broadcast booth.

6.    Michael A. Tater (Taylor) who looks like he’s about eleven years old, but can hit the ball very far.

5.    That tornado-in-cleats swing of Bryce Harper.

4.   When Michael Morse, “The Beast” returns to Nationals Park to play against his former team, the home crowd still sings “Take on Me,” his walk-up song from when he wore a Curly W.  Classy crowd. 

3.   The Racing Presidents  Race – dumbest idea for mascots, ever – kind of grows on you after a few dozen times. (At least, when there’s cheating in these races, everyone knows it!)

2.   Mad Max, stalking the mound, when he’s got it going – and he usually has it going.

1.   Watching the Nationals, hoping to see spectacular plays, knowing they’re good enough to “win it all” is a hope-filled exercise.  Sure, they disappoint me on some days, but those other times are pretty great.  Give me the opportunity to cheer for excellence in a city that seems awash in mediocrity and meanness.

That’s why I love the Washington Nationals, so, even if Donny doesn’t want to –


I’m SO Busy!

22 03 2017

Quick question:

Who is not busy?

Quick question??? More like trick question. We are ALL busy. 

There are not enough hours in the day. 

Stress level is running at red-line every waking moment.

And don’t even get us started on how little time we actually sleep . . .

Yes, we are all incredibly busy; that is not the question.

The real question is:

What are we doing that is keeping us “busy?”

There’s no denying that there are lots of people who genuinely are busy doing things that must be done to keep roof overhead, food in bellies, and clothes on kids.  I’m not talking about those folks, though.  I’m talking about those of us who actually have choices as to how we spend some of our time.

While we have the ability to choose, how many of us actually consider our choices as we zip through our days, racing from one thing to another without so much as a whiff of “Do I really need to be doing this?” much less “Do I really want to be doing this?”  

Being busy is a good thing, though, right?  We fear being idle; it’s unseemly.  Well, the opposite of idle is not busy; it’s engaged. 

Stop being busy. 

Stop long enough to think about how you spend your precious resource – your time.

Spend your time doing things that raise your quality of life, not your blood pressure. 

A Not Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Wednesday

15 03 2017

I was determined to stay positive. I really was . . . and then, the cyberdog ate my homework.  Seriously.  A few hours ago, my main computer, where all my ideas live, was felled by the dreaded Windows Update, which, of course did NOT update.  It is currently mid-hissy-fit and refuses to let me restart, reset, or restore, so my almost-finished post for today is unreachable!  The true beauty of this situation is that it decided to update without asking me first AND it decided to do it during dinner, that time between “write the post” and “post the post.”

Given the dual frustration of winter’s last bitch-slap and computer gremlins, I can only say, “Well played, Phil, you reprehensible rodent.  You and your girlfriend Stella have made your point.”

See you next week – next season – spring!

Four Score and Seven Years Ago

8 03 2017

In two days, my mother will celebrate her 87th birthday. 

We are the luckiest children on the planet. Mom’s smart and strong and healthy and happy.  We do not take this for granted. We are grateful.

Some (lots of) people who know how my sibs and I were raised would say that Mom spoiled us. Yes, she went to ridiculous lengths to make us happy. She was (and still is) tireless and dogged* in her efforts to make our lives as easy as hers had been difficult – and that is an understatement.

To honor Mom’s parenting philosophy this Wednesday before her birthday, here’s a loving daughter’s riff on a little news item:

Oh!  Mama-Care

Individual mandate – If you don’t like what I made for dinner, I’ll fix you a sandwich.

Subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses – If you are short of cash a few days before pay day, I’ll always have some spending money for you.

Premium subsidies – If you want to go back to school, you can come back and live with me, rent-free, as long as you want.

Medicaid expansion – I will always have band-aids for every “ouchie” you suffer.

Health savings account – I will take excellent care of myself so I can always take care of you.

Restrictions on charging more for older Americans – You’ll always be my baby.

Dependent coverage You can depend on me UNTIL WE ARE ALL DEAD, PERIOD.

Pre-existing conditions policy – I love you, without conditions, pre-existing or otherwise.

Essential health benefits – Your happiness is the only thing that’s essential to me.

Prohibitions on annual and lifetime limits – You are prohibited from ever doubting  that you will always be my child, no matter how many Annual Renewals we share.

Happy Birthday, Mom!


*Dogged pursuit takes on a whole new meaning. This is Flip – also know as DD (Damn Dog). For just a little over a year, he’s been the recipient of Mom’s affection, not to mention some fine table scraps.