Tag Archives: joy

Catchin’ some SERIOUS Air


Down here in Georgia, there is a fun-house for kids called Catch Air. My grand daughters love to go there. There are all kinds of bounce house-like thingies, slides, places to climb, and it’s all fun all the time for the kiddos. 

Well, today’s picture shows that you don’t have to be in a bounce house to catch some serious air. When the grand daughters came over for Thanksgiving, we made that huge pile of leaves that I wrote about before. In today’s photo, my 8-year old grand daughter (who is truly a gifted young athletic kid) was running toward the pile of leaves that was originally up to about her chest, if not her shoulders, and with wild abandon she launched herself into the air to crash into the pile with all the exuberance she could muster in her 8-year old self. That’s her style, though…she doesn’t hold back on much of anything! I think she could leap a tall building in a single bound if she chose to do so. Of course, today she’d get covered in red Georgia clay-mud as it’s cold, wet and cloudy, so I’m glad she didn’t try this today!

When is the last time you launched yourself into a huge pile of leaves? Isn’t it about time?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1952, heavy smog begas to hover over London, England. It would persist for 4 days, leading to the deaths of at least 4000 persons. 

It was a Thursday afternoon when a high-pressure air mass stalled over the Thames River Valley. When cold air arrived suddenly from the west, the air over London became trapped in place. The problem was exacerbated by low temperatures, which caused residents to burn extra coal in their furnaces. The smoke, soot and sulfur dioxide from the area’s industries along with that from cars and consumer energy usage caused extraordinarily heavy smog to smother the city. By the morning of December 5, there was a visible pall cast over hundreds of square miles.

The smog became so thick and dense that by December 7 there was virtually no sunlight and visibility was reduced to five yards in many places. Eventually, all transportation in the region was halted, but not before the smog caused several rail accidents, including a collision between two trains near London Bridge. The worst effect of the smog, however, was the respiratory distress it caused in humans and animals, including difficulty breathing and the vomiting of phlegm. One of the first noted victims was a prize cow that suffocated on December 5. An unusually high number of people in the area, numbering in the thousands, died in their sleep that weekend. (Galen: I hope this isn’t giving you nightmares!)

It is difficult to calculate exactly how many deaths and injuries were caused by the smog. As with heat waves, experts compare death totals during the smog to the number of people who have died during the same period in previous years. The period between December 4 and December 8 saw such a marked increase in death in the London metropolitan area that the most conservative estimates place the death toll at 4,000, with some estimating that the smog killed as many as 8,000 people.

On December 9, the smog finally blew away. In the aftermath of this incident, the British government passed more stringent regulations on air pollution and encouraged people to stop using coal to heat their homes. Despite these measures, a similar smog 10 years later killed approximately 100 Londoners.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: body language is a strange thing, yet the study of it is a scientific discipline of it’s own. For example, in Asia, kissing is considered such an intimate act that it is not permissible in public, even as a social greeting. A woman has a wider-ranging peripheral vision, which allows her to check out a man’s body from head to toe without getting caught. A male’s peripheral vision is poorer, which is why a man will move his gaze up and down a woman’s body in a very obvious way. Men do not “ogle” more than women—their tunnel vision means they just get caught more easily.

The Joy of Leaves


I like to photograph leaves in the autumn. I haven’t really done that this year and it is really too late now. Alas. I love the way they change colors and how a single leaf can break out in a flurry of various colors and shades. They are amazing and it delights me to see them.

But, perhaps there is no greater joy of leaves than that which comes to a child who can run and jump into a big pile of leaves!

On Thanksgiving day, our youngest son and his family came to our house for the Thanksgiving celebration. Prior to their arrival, my wife and I had raked up a HUGE pile of leaves for the purpose of letting their kids have some fun with the leaf pile. Fortunately, we have NO shortage of leaves as our home is surrounded by tree and backs right up to the Dawson forest with no fence in the back yard. So the leaves were plentiful!

I shot over 200 pictures of the little girls giggling, running, jumping, leaping, turning somersaults and messing up the pile of leaves we’d worked so hard to create. Did I mind that the pile got destroyed? Absolutely not! That was the point, after all!

And then this morning after church, our youngest grand daughter crawled up in my lap and said, “Pop-pop, it was SO MUCH FUN playing in the leaves at your house the other day!”  (I have one sequence of shots when she was running to the pile, jumped in, got twisted around, and at one point, only her rear end and shoes were sticking out of the leaves…but she emerged with a huge grin and laugh! I laughed so hard when I saw the pictures of that sequence!!!

Guess what? I’ll rake up a big pile again next year and let them destroy it again – laughing all the time!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1703, an unusual storm system finally dissipated over England after wreaking havoc on the country for nearly two weeks. Featuring hurricane strength winds, the storm killed somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people. Hundreds of Royal Navy ships were lost to the storm, the worst in Britain’s history.

The unusual weather began on November 14 as strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean battered the south of Britain and Wales. Many homes and other buildings were damaged by the pounding winds, but the hurricane-like storm only began doing serious damage on November 26. With winds estimated at over 80 miles per hour, bricks were blown from some buildings and embedded in others. Wood beams, separated from buildings, flew through the air and killed hundreds across the south of the country. Towns such as Plymouth, Hull, Cowes, Portsmouth and Bristol were devastated.

However, the death toll really mounted when 300 Royal Navy ships anchored off the country’s southern coast—with 8,000 sailors on board—were lost. The Eddystone Lighthouse, built on a rock outcropping 14 miles from Plymouth, was felled by the storm. All of its residents, including its designer, Henry Winstanley, were killed. Huge waves on the Thames River sent water six feet higher than ever before recorded near London. More than 5,000 homes along the river were destroyed.

The author Daniel Defoe, who would later enjoy worldwide acclaim for the novel Robinson Crusoe, witnessed the storm, which he described as an “Army of Terror in its furious March.” His first book, The Storm, was published the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A modern coin-counting machine can count 2,500 coins a minute. A bank note-counting machine can tally up to 100 bills in 4 seconds. It can also tell what denomination they are and if they are fake.

…the Fisher-person’s Dance?


What makes you feel like dancing?  I mean, besides music?  Happiness has that effect people…it makes your feet want to move to the happiness that is dancing in  your heart.

Did you know that making a cast while fishing can make you dance, too?  It can, if you are a six year old girl who brings her little fishing pole to her Pop-pop’s house (that’s grandpa’s house) and they walk down to the lake and she practices her casting!  When we got there, she really couldn’t remember how to work the pole at all, and I had to show her a total of 2 times how to throw it out and use the little thumb button.  After that, well, the rest is history!  She was casting like a pro in a matter of minutes!  And, as you can see, she was so excited about how well she was doing that in her happiness, she broke out spontaneously into a dance.  I’m just glad I had my camera in hand to capture the moment and savor her joy!  (Little sis wasn’t quite as excited, but she would tell her big sis, “Nice throw!”)

It warms a grandpa’s heart on such a cold day!

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY:  in 1957, infamous killer Edward Gein murdered his last victim, Bernice Worden of Plainfield,Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention, and may have provided  inspiration for the characters of Norman Bates in Psycho and serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.

Gein was a quiet farmer who lived in rural Wisconsin with an extremely domineering mother. After she died in 1945, he began studying anatomy, and started stealing women’s corpses from local cemeteries. In 1954, Gein shot and killed saloonkeeper Mary Hogan, piled the body onto a sled, and dragged it home.

On November 16, Gein robbed Worden at the local hardware store she owned and killed her. Her son, a deputy, discovered his mother’s body and became suspicious of Gein, who was believed to be somewhat odd. When authorities searched Gein’s farmhouse, they found an unimaginably grisly scene: organs were in the refrigerator, a heart sat on the stove, and heads had been made into soup bowls. Apparently, Gein had kept various organs from his grave digging and murders as keepsakes and for decoration. He had also used human skin to upholster chairs.

Though it is believed that he killed others during this time, Gein only admitted to the murders of Worden and Hogan. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota, where he remained until his death in 1984.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Even before the 2010 earthquake, only 54% of Haitians had access to sanitation facilities (toilets, indoor plumbing, sewer systems). Less than half had a regular source of safe drinking water.



I love it when a child discovers some new joy or ability and their face lights up like a lantern on a moonless night!  Oh, the joy when moments of delight steal onto their faces whether the child wishes them to do so or not!

Sometimes some great discovery has been made that causes the expression to explode over their faces.  But who is to determine if a discovery is great or small?  Shouldn’t it be enough that it brings with it a smile and perhaps a squeal of delight to a child (or an adult)?!

Let it be something simple, as in today’s photo of my next-to-youngest grand-daughter as she discovers her ability to fly a kite “way up there!”

Smiles are priceless.  Let’s share more of them with one another.  Let’s be the cause of more smiles than frowns.  The world would sure be a better place because of it!

What lights up my face like this?  Seeing my grandchildren.  Honestly, I just can’t help but smile!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1762 in New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history. Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church’s second missionary to Ireland. Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 461, the island was almost entirely Christian.

Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in general revelry.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  A study of nearly 1 million students in New York showed that those who ate lunches without preservatives, dyes, and other additives performed 14% better on IQ tests.

Where Dreams Come True

Nearly everyone has a “favorite place” that they like to go.  It may be the place where you were born, a place where history was made/changed or where you proposed/accepted a marriage proposal or the most awe-inspiring, beautiful place you’ve ever seen – even if it was just for a visit.  Chances are that for us adults, it is one of those places, a place where dreams came true for us.

Little kids, however, probably have a different set of criteria for places where dreams come true.  For them, it could be anywhere, anywhere at all.  Children don’t typically dream as big of dreams as adults (at least not little children).  A child can be perfectly happy dreaming of getting an ice cream – they don’t covet Lamborghini’s, Canon 5D Mark II’s, or Kate Upton’s body.  Most of the time, children find magic wherever they are.

My 5-year old granddaughter is quick to point out to you that she is magic, all by herself.  And you know what?  I believe her!  One only needs to be around her for a little while and you’ll be convinced of it yourself!

Still, there are places that are magical, wonderful, amazing and delightful for young and old alike.  Today’s photo is such a place – Disney World in Orlando, FL.  As I walked the grounds twice this past week, I noticed lots of families with children of all ages, but you know what else I noticed?  Lots of older, gray/white-haired men and women, walking hand-in-hand around the place, lost in the wonder of the environment and the person with whom they shared it.  That is perhaps what makes Disney World and Disney Land so special – it makes us all believe once again in magic.

_MG_5910ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1620, the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists–half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs–had been authorized to settle by the British crown. However, stormy weather and navigational errors forced the Mayflower off course, and on November 21 the Pilgrims reached Massachusetts, where they founded the first permanent European settlement in New England in late December.

Along the way, the settlers formulated and signed the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that bound the signatories into a “civil body politic.” Because it established constitutional law and the rule of the majority, the compact is regarded as an important precursor to American democracy.
After coming to anchor in Provincetown harbor, a party of armed men under the command of Captain Myles Standish was sent out to explore the area and find a location suitable for settlement. While they were gone, Susanna White gave birth to a son, Peregrine, aboard the Mayflower. He was the first English child born in New England. In mid-December, the explorers went ashore at a location across Cape Cod Bay where they found cleared fields and plentiful running water and named the site Plymouth.
In the first year of settlement, half the colonists died of disease. In 1621, the health and economic condition of the colonists improved, and that autumn Governor William Bradford invited neighboring Indians to Plymouth to celebrate the bounty of that year’s harvest season. Plymouth soon secured treaties with most local Indian tribes, and the economy steadily grew, and more colonists were attracted to the settlement. By the mid 1640s, Plymouth’s population numbered 3,000 people, but by then the settlement had been overshadowed by the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony to the north, settled by Puritans in 1629.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: President Calvin Coolidge, thirtieth U.S. president, liked cats and would often walk around the office with his yellow cat draped over his shoulders like a fur piece.



Have you ever looked at your spouse or child or friend and wondered, “What are you feeling right now?”  I know I have.  Us men aren’t too good at talking about feelings, so I figure it’s always better to ask the question of my wife and let her talk than waiting to be asked myself!

It is hard, sometimes, to guess what someone else is feeling and/or thinking.  It can be easier with dogs – just check the tail and you get a pretty good indication rather quickly!

Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about little children is the sheer innocence of how they wear their feelings on their faces.  We’ve learned well how to hide those feelings as we grow up and get bruised and battered emotionally by rejection, loss of love, failure and sometimes, outright abuse.

I hope little children never have to learn to hide their feelings.  Sadly, some do, I fear.  But my next-to-youngest granddaughter hasn’t hit that stage yet.  Her feelings are RIGHT  OUT  THERE!!!!  No doubt about it!!!  Today’s photo was taken during a recent trip to the beach…and there’s nothing restrained about her reaction.  If you can’t guess her feelings from looking at the picture, let me suggest to you that you need to go and visit the optometrist right away!  The poor little girl wasn’t having ANY fun….

DelightON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1984, James Oliver Huberty opens fire in a crowded McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, California, killing 21 people and wounding 19 others with several automatic weapons. Minutes earlier, Huberty had left home, telling his wife, “I’m going hunting… hunting for humans.”  Huberty suffered from mental problems.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair (and I’m not talking about jewelry).  I’ve been told that my hair is even better … it’s silver…or is that gray????

For the Joy of It

When is the last time you did something purely for the joy of it?  It seems that as we grow into adulthood that we lose some of the ability to do things just for the pure delight it brings.  We seem to always have schedules to keep, reasons for what we do that may have far less to do with us and more to do with the demands that others put on us, places to go, work to get done…and by the time we get done with all that, we just too tuckered out to even think about fun.  Or, we’re so tired that the idea of just crawling into bed sounds like fun.

Animals have no such compunctions, or at least, if they do, they’ve never told me about it.  Dogs seem to have a nearly endless capacity for fun – at least, right up to the very end of their days when they may be too feeble or sick.  But up until that point, put two dogs together and turn them loose and watch the fun begin!

When we walk our dog, Lucy, we are supposed to keep her on a leash at all times.  I guess that in a way we do, but we let go of the leash (do you suppose they’d buy the argument that we still have her on a leash when we do that?), and let her run a bit.  As you can tell from today’s picture, she loves it!  Maybe it’s time for us all to shuck our leash for a bit and let go.  I suspect we’d feel better if we did that every so often!

_MG_0534ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1960, the US navy bathyscaphe Trieste dived to a record depth of 35,810 feet in the Pacific Ocean’s Marianas Trench.  The record still stands to this day.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the one-foot measurement is based on one-third the length of the arm of King Henry I (1068-1135) of England.


Going All Out

Let me see: what things do I love about my 3-nearly-4 year old grand-daughter?  I love her smile.  I love her laugh.  I love her energy.  I love her athleticism.  I love the way she teases me back.  I love how she loves her baby sister.  I love how she loves her mom and dad.  I love how she wanted me to teach her to fish.  I love how she likes to shoot hoops.  I love her imagination.  I love her joy of life.  I love her belief that there’s nothing she can’t do.

I love how she does things without restraint.  It shows in this picture from her first soccer practice last night.  She’s the youngest on the team (had to be petitioned in because she missed the cut-off by a couple of weeks), and the smallest on the team, too.  But look at her!  She isn’t just lightly kicking the ball, she goes all out!  Just check out the look of joy on her face as she’s kicking past that much bigger boy, as if to say, “You can’t stop me!!!!!  I’ve got you right where I want you!!!!   Watch this!!!!!”

I predict great things for this soccer season.  And for my grand-daughter in life!!!

Come to think of it, I can’t think of anything about her that I don’t love completely!!!

Going for it!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1962, the USS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear powered ship, made her maiden voyage from Yorktown, VA to Savannah, GA.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in the autumn of 1888, five London prostitutes were found murdered and butchered.  The perpetrator was never identified, though he (she?) earned the nickname, “Jack the Ripper.”

Life Lessons

First, I’ve not posted because I was out of town and then sick…so hopefully, we’ll get back on our normal schedule here!

Next, let me say that I didn’t take today’s photo…one of my sons did, but he used my camera so I think it’s fair game for me to use it!

Back when the little girl in today’s photo was less than a year old, I have a photo of her in Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Boston, sitting in the  middle of a patch of white flowers (dandelion-like) by a tombstone in that cemetery.  When I shot it, it captured me with a sense of innocence.  She had no idea where she was, or why there were all those marble things sticking up out of the ground.  All she knew was that she found a beautiful place and she was happy.

In this picture, she’s actually on the grave marker of one of her great-grandmothers, though I don’t know if she remembers her, because she would have been slightly over two when that great-grandmother passed away.  But the smile is still there.  She is happy.

There is something wonderful to be said for smiling in a graveyard.  It is a testimony to childlike innocence, but also for those who are older that we don’t believe it is the end, that in fact, there may be an even better world in which to live and that the cemetery is only a doorway to that better place.

We haven’t lived in Georgia all that long, but we’ve made some friends while we were here.  This weekend, we learned that one of them, a very gifted, warm, friendly, happy man, has brain cancer.  He told a group of us that he’d gathered together, and while he was waiting for everyone to gather, he said (in order to alleviate everyone’s wondering about why we were there), “It’s not a big deal.”  Then, a few minutes later, he dropped the bombshell.  We were stunned.  We’re still stunned.  We’re hoping and praying for a full recovery from his upcoming treatments and surgery.

I’ve had enough thinking about grave yards lately.  But I love the innocence of a child in the middle of the markers.  I wish that they would always know grave yards as places of grass, flowers, trees and quiet peacefulness.

Laughter amid the stones…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Styth Pemberton invented the formula for Coca-Cola.  I’m so glad he did!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: if you rubbed garlic on the bottom of your foot, it would be eventually absorbed through the pores and make its presence known in your breath.

Simple Joys and a Grandpa’s Heart

Do you remember when you got all excited to be given an ice cream cone?  Or to make one of those chain links out of colored construction paper so you could count down the days to Christmas?  How it was exciting to be given a candy bar or to go trick-or-treating?

Childhood should be a time of abundant, simple joys.  I had a wonderful childhood…one filled with all sorts of delightful experiences and very few painful ones.  I know that in many ways I was one of the lucky ones.  I’m very thankful for that.  I wish every child could have that kind of childhood, that no child would ever be abused, mistreated or go to bed without a full stomach.  That’s part of why I am moving into a new and different direction as far as what I hope to do for the rest of my life: helping kids regardless of where they live, to get food, water and protection.

We are 8 days away from moving.  We had two of our three kids and their families here for Thanksgiving…and what a wondrous time it was!!!  I’ve got the most wonderful family on earth: three kids who are all married to wonderful spouses, and 5 grandkids that make me the proudest grandfather in the history of the world.  But then, Friday came and our daughter and her family had to return home…so we had a long, tearful goodbye.  Today, our oldest son and his family went home…so we had a long, tearful goodbye.  Both of their families live in the Bay Area, and since we’re moving to Georgia, it’ll be some time before we see them again…and we won’t see them as often.  Sure, we’ll Skype a lot (at least that’s our intention), and while it’s great to be able to do so, it’s not the same as being in the same room and being able to feel their hugs or to give them a hug.  I won’t be able to buy my grand-kids an ice cream whenever I want.  These two families live close enough that on any given day, we could have drive down to see them.  Not after 12/5.  But we will be near our other son and his family.

While these things weigh heavily on our hearts tonight, this post is about simple joys…those known to kids.  Today’s photo was taken Friday afternoon.  Two of my granddaughters are in it, and my oldest on has just crash-landed in a small pile of leaves that she and her two cousins had raked up in the front yard.  I love the look of the simple joy of jumping into the leaves that is on her face.  What a wonderful time they had!  I wish I could be with all my kids and grand-kids every day to share simple joys with them!

The simple joys of childhood...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: there are 61 towns in the United States that have the word “turkey” in them,

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in 1703 a two day “Great Storm” ripped through southern England flooding the Thames and Severin rivers, killing over 8000 people.