The 6’s

1946 – Coleridge, NE, 5 yrs old.

1956 – Loveland, CO, 15 yrs old, sophomore at new school after moving to Loveland from Fort Collons because my mother taught Hime Ec at LHS.

1966 – Portland, OR, 25 yrs old, new first teaching job at Roosevelt High School teaching math and Physics. (3 children)

1976 – Portland, OR, 35 yrs old, president Pirtland Assn if Teachers and teaching at Adams High School, physics, physical science and general studies. Betsy and I are in Philadelphia for the bicentennial.

1986 – Eugene, OR, 45 yrs old, attending the University of Oregon for Ph.D. In Computers in Education.

1996 – Portland, OR, 55 yrs old, teaching at Marshall High School, physical science on computers. Adopted three grandkids in 1992, consulting in western states in Imaging Processing, science and math on the Internet, and systems dynamics.

2006 – Corvallis, OR, 65 yrs old, retired and moved to Corvallis where I volunteered with Dial-a-Bus and Meals on Wheels.  Have traveled to Europe, South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Central America and SE Asia, mostly for volunteer work.

2016 -75 yrs old, ??!?!

-Small town boy.

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‘Twas the night after Christmas

Twas the night after Christmas

And all through the house

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a mouse.

The stockings lay on a heap on the floor 

In realization that St Nickolas had already been there.

Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap

Had settled in for a long winters nap.

When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter

That I rose from my bed to see what’s the matter.

I ran to the window and threw up the sash

And saw the solid waste truck hauling off the trash.

In a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.

Now Donner, now Blitzen,

To the top of the pile of the waste and recycle, they came,

Now dash away, dash away, dash away all.

Up to the rooftop the wild coursers flew,

With a sleigh full of old toys and the junk man too.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

Down the chimney the junk man came with a bound.

He was all tarnished with ashes and soot and more than a little  smelly,

He had a stogie in his mouth, and  a round little belly.

But he spoke not a word but went straight to his work,

Recycling the wrapping paper and bows, and packages and packaging and boxes and bags and cards and envelopes and food refuse and plastic and styrofoam and more packaging from China, and toys easily broken and clothing that was too small, and paper cups and paper plates, and all the receipts and anything else left over.

And then laying a finger aside his nose,

Up the chimney he rose.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of site,

Merry Christmas to all and recycle tonight!

  

– Small town boy 

The Christmas sElf

Once upon a time,

I had a Christmas sElf.

I don’t know where he lived all year round, I didn’t see him much.

But at Christmas,

At Christmas he makes me feel wonderful.

He gives me permissions.

Permissions I don’t have in the rest of the year.

Permission to love everyone, Jesus, and Santa.

Permission to celebrate grandkids and great grandkids.

Permission to give and to receive.

I love my Christmas sElf,

I love him so much that I invited him to spend the rest of the year with me.

I want to feel like this everyday.

No longer ’tis the season!’

Now tis each and every day.

Talk to your Christmas sElf and see if he will hang with you this year.

I’m sure he’ll find many things to enjoy with you. 

Merry Chrustmas today and all your tomorrows.

I love you, don’t you see? Ask your Christmas sElf, he’ll tell you so.

  
– Small town boy

Gone

Verlyne is gone, just before Halloween, ovarian cancer.

Verolyne is gone, last summer, scooter accident in Cambodia.

Jeff is gone, cancer a few years ago.

Trudie is gone, pancreatic cancer,  25 years ago or so.

Gladys is gone, colon cancer, 30 years or so.

Mom is gone, colon cancer, 37 years?

Dad is gone, took his own life 65 years ago.

My mother-in-law, Ruth, and my father-in-law are gone, colon cancer and traffic accident.

All 6 maternal aunts and uncles and their spouses gone.

My father’s brother and sister and their spouses are gone.

All of my ancestors, gone.

Two Kennedys and MLKing gone.

But I’m not gone, yet.

I will go too and so will you.

I am the product of those who have gone before.

Let me use my time here to the best use.

Let me do the things I won’t be able to do in the next life: hug, kiss, hold babies, talk to those around me, act with truth and kindness.

Let me prepare for the next step, spiritually, bodily, emotionally, and mentally.

Let me enjoy the moment and the world around me.

Let me not hate or carry anger or hurt.

I have this life, more than the body I have, let me enjoy love, friends and sweet memories that result.

I only see the inside. You only see the outside. If we talk those two views can be reconciled? 

Let me hear you.

Let me see you.

Your life and mine have crossed paths for a moment. Leave something for me as I have left this for you.

I love you and them and me.

I love the we that exists for a microsecond.

I will hold it close to my heart till I die.

Thank you.

  
-small town boy

Puddles

When the water table rises above ground, as it has here in flooded Tillamook County,

And it continues to rain and bluster,

Puddles surround our beach home.

   
  
The water has no where to go, so it puddles.

Hold on a second, I’m searching my brain for a metaphor,

Actually I have the metaphor, I’m searching for some sage application for it,

Some scene or situation where this particular metaphor would illuminate the human condition?

Sadly, with the Republican debates so freshly on my mind, you’ll have to pardon me, but this is about to get political,

I’ll understand if suddenly you remember something or someone or somewhere that you need to respond to suddenly.

So?

I guess that my disappointment stems from a lack of intelligent discourse,

I was embarrassed as an American that these men (and one woman) spoke as though they were puddles of the same water table.

Puddles in the sense that they were all standing on the same stage, saying the same thing, and interested in bombing Syrians, or at least the ‘terrorists’ of ISIS.

Puddles in the sense that soon they would dry up and disappear, evaporate in a metaphoric sense.

Puddles in the sense of lack of depth to their thinking, and empty of life.

Puddles as in wet feet gained when in there presence, such as discourages further argument, agreement, or action.

As puddles they only reflect the immediate vicinity and narrowly seek by any means to draw the voter into the mud with them.

Far enough? You get my drift? Does the analogy help you understand my great disappointment and patriotic embarrassment.

I left the Republican Party because Barry Goldwater ran for president,

And I see no reason among all those candidates to return.

Put on your rubbers, this is going to be a long, wet, campaign season.

Best wishes to you and yours.

– Small town boy

Lost Connection

It has only been a year.

I knew her for a year.

She unlocked my life, long enough to extract ten stories

From 1948, from Coleridge, Nebraska,

Where my father took his own life

And sealed those memories in the shadow

That was my life.

We found each other only one year ago,

We discovered a common history, she knew she had Ovarian Cancer and that it was terminal,

She had known it for years 

She shared her bravery and grace with me for one year of my life,

And that changed everything.

Now I am a writer.

Now I share my stories with others.

I have lost my connection to Coleridge and a dark part of my youth,

But not before shining a bright light on those memories that were wonderful,

Those memories not tarnished by my father,

And my heart came to life.

Thank you Verlyne.

God bless and keep you and let his face shine upon you now.

I love you and am a better person for it.

  
– Small town boy

Just a whim

For much of my life a whim was an idle decision, not well thought out.

I went to the grocery store and stole candy, on whim.

Whiming really started there, I guess.

I found out that an arbitrary decision to act held consequences,

Not the bad kind, but the good, which often benefited me.

Whims came from my intuition and the less thought I gave them the better.

When I was in a leadership position in the union, I found myself relying on my instantaneous decisions in chaotic circumstances, again with positive results.

I could rely on my decision making skills, even decisions made in the heat if the moment,

Even whims.

When I was learning to lead my mentor told me how to make decisions quickly:

Practice on small decisions to build habit and confidence,

Like when you and your friends are deciding what to do,

Movie? Sports? TV?

You decide quickly and build your leadership along with confidence.

But now, now they say I have impulse control problems.

Impulse buying is bad.

Impulse assignations ditto.

Impulses while driving are to be avoided.

Don’t just do everything that enters your head!

As a youth I often heard, “you weren’t thinking!”

Thinking is good. Consideration of consequences is good.

My teenaged friend had two sayings on his wall:

“Look before you leap.” And

“He who hesitates is lost.”

I wrote this poem on a whim.

I kissed you on another.

Whims are just wishes upside down,

Sort of.

  
– Small town boy