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

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

Danger: Motorcycling in the Coal Country of Virginia at Age 70

Young couple on a bike

Young couple on a bike

The road was sharply crowned, narrow and steep, and suddenly the Gold Wing starting misfiring, the light panel on the dashboard flashed wildly and then the engine just quit. The motorcycle stopped in the middle of the lane, and I was stuck, really stuck. The bike weighs about 1,000 pounds, and at 70 years old, I could not push it around to get it headed downhill. Continue reading

Old Men Return to the Woods

Courtesy of Al Reiner '64

Courtesy of Al Reiner ’64

You can’t go home again, argues Thomas Wolfe in his famous novel, but we do. Sometimes in retirement we move back to an earlier home place, and we often join family, friends or classmates at reunions where we celebrate our past. 

In August I attended my 50-year reunion of the class of 1964 at the New York State Ranger School, which trained us to be forest technicians—men who did much of the practical woods work of forestry.

The Ranger School did more than that for most of us. We were young, just out of high school, and we needed guidance. The faculty and staff helped transform us into young men ready for adult roles. Continue reading

Adventure: Friends on the Loose in the Woods

Uli and Otto Saur

Uli and Otto Saur

Otto and Uli are visiting for a week. We hosted one of their sons as a high-school exchange student about thirty years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Years ago we hiked with them in the Alps, and now they wanted to hike in the Appalachians. The Appalachians have vast areas of unpopulated wilderness with poorly marked trails, and hikers who make a small mistake may walk for miles in a wrong direction.

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Family and Friends at the Pond

Drew, Alex, Devon

Drew, Alex, Devon

A pond occupies the center of our neighborhood, and a goose and two ducks live there. They have become, well, friends. In most places, geese hang with geese and ducks with ducks, so our pond, with an inter-species friendship going on, is a little more interesting.  Continue reading

Who Are You?

Retirement DSC00977

Sunset on Lake Champlain

Who reads these posts? What’s going on here?

This blog is now two years old and we might take stock of our efforts. Two years ago I expected most readers would be retired. Now it’s clear that many readers are not even close to retirement but instead work serving a senior population.

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Frank’s Key to Retirement: a story

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“I cut my own firewood,” said Frank. “Helen likes a fire in the winter. Of course it’s messy, what with the dirt on the wood and then the ashes, but she likes a fire. And truth be told, I like to cut and split the wood.”

It was a bright cold day, and I had stopped by Frank’s place to plan some deer hunting. We were out back of his house at his log pile, in the middle of his 4-acre woodlot.

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Alone for a Week in Retirement

Country living for a retired man

Country living for a retired man

Barbara is on vacation. She went exploring along the northern California coast with two friends she has known for decades. She has been having a wonderful time, including taking a close photo of a bear near a cabin. When we talked on the phone, she was as excited about the bear as you might imagine a twelve-year-old girl scout.

I have been alone with Cicero and the rain. Since Barbara has been away, it has rained everyday. The woods, bushes and grass are growing fast enough to watch.

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