Money as Omen and Memory

At the Ranger School, our public phone was more modern, but this one reminds me of 1963.

Old phone reminds me of the phone we had at the Ranger School in 1963, though ours had coin receptacles and a rotary dial.

Last winter, my younger brother, Bill, showed me a notebook I left at home over 50 years ago. It had two pages of expense entries from the summer of 1962, after graduating from high school, and from 1963, when I attended the New York State Ranger School, a forestry technician school in the western Adirondack Mountains of New York. Money spent: I wanted to see what the entries might tell. Continue reading

Nature’s Drama: Photos Along the Pacific Coast

Sea lions lounge on rocks along the Oregon coast

Sea lions lounge on rocks along the Oregon coast

If the interior West exudes space, solitude, and silence, the Pacific Coast offers drama: isolated beaches, quaint towns, high cliffs, shifting mist and rain, and a coastline littered with large rock formations. We visited the Pacific Coast in early June, before the travel season peaked and, luckily, when the weather was good. Continue reading

Later Living Will Bloom Again

Redbuds and forsythia at sunrise signaling a new season

Redbuds and forsythia at sunrise signaling a new season

A Short History of Later Living

I’ve neglected this blog for some months, but I’m now ready to revive it.

Back in late 2011 when I started, two motives dominated. First, I wanted to see if I could write a weekly post or column (it’s not easy). Second, I wanted to figure out retirement for myself (how should I live in retirement?). Continue reading

Nature Is a State of Mind

Wide open landscapes in the West

Wide open landscapes in the West

In 2003, a year after I retired but when my wife was still working, I took Anna, our dog, and headed west to see some of the country I’d visited in times past. Anna and I camped most of the time, and one particular night I remember finding a small Bureau of Land Management campground on Antelope Reservoir in eastern Oregon. We could see a long way across the reservoir and surrounding desert landscape. I remember preparing dinner while Anna, sitting at the edge of the campsite, watched the landscape for signs of life. Continue reading

Death and New Life: Mary Ann and Harper Grace

One magnolia fading after a full bloom, another magnolia opening to the day

One magnolia fading after a full bloom, another magnolia opening to the day

Yesterday at 3:30 a.m. a dear friend in Alabama passed away from complications following surgery. We were neighbors for several years and our children grew up together. We shared many meals and laughs, helped each other when needed and worshipped together. We’ve lived apart for maybe 18 years now, but we have stayed in touch. Her loss is deeply felt by my wife and me. Rest in Peace, Mary Ann.

Mary Ann leaves her husband, Keith, and three sons, all of whom are grown and married. She and Keith were married for well over forty years, and he now faces a loss that will reverberate through his life for years to come.

Then at 6:30 a.m. in Vermont, one of our nieces bore her third daughter, Harper Grace, and everyone is doing well. We probably won’t see Harper Grace until late fall or early winter. She joins her two sisters who are full of curiosity, hope and love, and her parents, Marc and Amy who are in middle life, devoted to work and family, and spending their own energy as if it were boundless. Welcome to our family and the world, Harper Grace. Continue reading

Prayer Threatens Our Turmoil: Monasticism—Part II

Some of the Monastery staff

Some of the Monastery staff at lunch

Visitors are welcome at most monasteries. After my first day, new people arrived and the three men, who had been there a week, headed home.

We had all come to Our Lady with different stories. P. (I’ll use only first initials) recently left a ministry in upstate New York and was spending a year in discernment. She lived mostly in a retreat house in Arizona, and came to Our Lady for one week. D. lived locally, helping care for her aging parents and managing a store owned by her brother. She needed a break and wanted prayer. Continue reading

One Thing at a Time Quiets a Mind

Carlsbad Cavern

Carlsbad Cavern

Maybe incongruities in daily life give rise to neurotic tendencies. A woman must earn a living but doesn’t like her job; a man loves his children but fears responsibility. Or this one: people want time alone but don’t leave their cities or suburbs. Continue reading

Interval Training in Long-Term Marriages

Driving in Mississippi

Driving in Mississippi

It’s raining and I’m sitting in a motel in Brookhaven, Mississippi, waiting for winter storm Remus to move through. Then I’ll continue driving, across the great river and northern Louisiana, then Texas and into southern New Mexico. I’m alone; my wife stayed home. For me, being alone is good. Continue reading

Witnessing Fall Color

In Athens, Georgia, fall color is nearing its end. It typically peaks in late October or early November. Today, in mid-November, the large landscapes of color are gone. We’re left with some colorful trees, maybe particular branches or individual leaves. It is a good time to experience retirement and walk around the yard and woods with an eye for small beauty.

Continue reading