Tall tales, essays, conscientious objection to war and observations of the human condition from the perspective of over nine decade of living. Age does not guarantee wisdom, but it does grant perspective.

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Friday, November 22, 2013



A pessimists is a person who thinks things are bound to get better, but for someone else.


An optimist is a person who believes things were better than they actually were.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unison Boots
Unison boots, Unison Boots
With steel in the toes
Better for kicking things out of the way,
Stamping way down whatever there is.
Unison boots, Unison Boots.
We follow our leader wherever he goes.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
Follow our leader, follow our leader
That is our training, wherever he goes.
Suppose, suppose, he does not know
Wherever he goes and if he knows
Or does not know wherever he goes
It does not matter that if he knows
Or does not know, we follow
We follow wherever he goes.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
Stamping out Truth wherever we go,
Stamping out life wherever we go.
People will love us wherever we go
Our government tells us this so.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
Suppose, suppose, it is not so,
We find instead that people hate us
Wherever we go.
Our leader sold us whatever he told us
And we believed whatever he sold us.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
Follower, follower, what now do you do?
You stamped out love in the name of love.
All in the name of God you went
All of your energies there were spent
Stamping out love.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
You stamped out love, you stamped in hate.
Look at the soles of your boots.
Look at the tracks you leave behind.
Turn and look at your tracks of hate.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
Reversing the letters God became dog.
You took out God. You kicked the dog
With the steel in your boot.
The dog went flying out into space
And you were left with dog on your face.
Unison boots, Unison boots.
You kicked at God and did not know it.
You saw dog and kicked it away
With the hate in your boots you kicked it away
Unison boots, Unison boots.
Take off those boots and throw them away.
Find a mirror, hold it in front,
Look at yourself, face your shame.
The dog you kicked becomes God again.
The tracks you leave become love again.
The tracks you leave have hope again.
Boots can be evil.
Boots can be good.
Where do they lead you?
It all depends upon the spelling
Of their soles – SoulsCompany Halt – At ease.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Chaos is the ferment

Order is the wine

The grape is the hyphen.

Sip softly

Honor the grape.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Tree and the Hawk

Over sixty years ago my wife and I moved to the hill country town of Nashville, Indiana. It is about sixteen miles from the city of Bloomington and Indiana University. About once a week we would journey to Bloomington for entertainment or shopping or to do laundry.
When we began making our first trips I noticed a nearly perfectly formed oak tree in the center of a farmer’s bottom-land field. I would frequently see a red-tailed hawk resting on the sag between two poles of a power line near this same location.

As the years progressed the tree reached maturity and was a marker I looked for on frequent trips to Bloomington. About ten years ago the tree was ravaged by a windstorm which took down significant limbs changing its symmetry. More recently a lightning strike demolished about half the tree killing it. The remaining portion stood like an apple sliced in half.

Subsequent storms have left standing a grotesque, bare, leaning remnant, poised as if waiting for someone to place a cushion to soften its final fall. Recently I noticed a hawk on the top-most branch of the tree. I wonder if the hawk realizes that one day this perch will no longer be there. Did the hawk and the tree have a symbiotic relationship? Is the hawk aware that I look for it every time I drive by and that I miss it when it is not there?

The tree and I have aged together. I no longer have the symmetry of my younger days. Like the tree I have been weathered by the ravages of time. I’ve had some falls but manage to get up bruised but hobbled to remain standing. If the tree goes first I will miss my long-standing relationship with it. I think of us as old friends, one of the first we made when we first came to the region and have grown up together. I wonder if the hawk will miss the tree too. Whichever goes first, the hawk and the tree will never know that their presence added to the quality of my day each time I observed them. Or will they? Or does it matter?

I wonder why the farmer left this sapling standing when his purpose was to make the field tillable. As he cut the limbs for firewood and burned the stumps, why was this one tree left behind? Was there something about its symmetry even then causing him to spare it? Did he think that one day he might pasture the field and have cows? It would give them shade on a hot summer day. Maybe he was tired that day and left it standing thinking he would cut it another day? We will never know his reason.

We often make decisions based on reasons no greater than a whim never realizing they may affect others in the generations that follow. We all leave behind our footprints in the morning dew. Only the early risers can trace where they may lead if they so choose.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Outside the Box

We are often asked to think outside the box. I was born with a box whose sides were too tall for me to look into. One day out of curiosity, I pushed the box over and found it was empty, so I have always thought outside the box.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Miss Essie and her saving grace

Miss Essie was my eighth grade teacher. She was shaped like a pear with the stem attached. Her hair was in a bun and she wore gold-rimmed glasses. I liked her for she demanded from students the most she could get out of them. She also had a rear view mirror concealed in her bun so she could detect our mischief even when she faced the blackboard.

At the beginning of the year she announced that we were going to learn a new word once a week to improve our vocabulary. After stating the new word she would give us the rest of the period to write a short story in which we were to use the word as many times as we could manage. She said with this practice the word would be in our vocabulary as long as we lived. On this particular day she chose the word frugal, which she said meant to save.

This is the story I turned in but I will not share with you the grade I received.

Many years ago a beautiful young maiden was taking a morning walk along the shores of a lake near a castle. As the morning warmed she decided to wade out into the lake to cool off. She lifted the billowing long skirt and walked slowly into the lake. The cool water felt so soothing she kept walking with her arms out-stretched until the skirt floated up to them.

She stumbled on something sending her off balance and into the water. The skirt kept her from swimming to shore and she shouted, “Oh frugal me, frugal me, please frugal me I’m drowning.”

Now a young prince happened to be taking a morning stroll to the lake from his castle and heard her screams. He ran to the lake edge, swam out and frugaled her right in the water. He carried her to the beach where she clung to him thanking him again and again for frugaling her.

The handsome young prince took her to his castle and with his mother’s help and the application of many towels was able to frugal her from her wet clothing. His kindness created an instant bond between them and they fell in love, had a storybook wedding, and lived happily ever after.

The prince, however, despite of his good fortune, felt something was missing in his life. The satisfaction he felt after first frugaling his wife in the lake led him to wonder if he might have a talent for frugaling. While walking along the lake one morning he experienced an epiphany that affirmed his instincts. He did indeed have a gift for frugaling. How could he use this gift for the good of humanity?

He did what any up-standing prince would do. He was led to the financial markets. He established the Princely Frugaling and Loan Bank. This enabled him to accept the frugalings of hundreds in his realm plus paying them interest for the privilege. His bank prospered and his stature rose as a benign ruler.

Well, Miss Essie was right. The word has stayed with me to this day and I am in my 10th decade. Although Miss Essie taught me to frugal in eighth grade, I didn’t fugal very much until my early twenties for I had little with which to frugal. Eventually, like the prince, I met a beautiful young maiden who was a committed frugaler and we married. My wife and I have always been good frugalers. Just because you reach retirement, is no reason to give up frugaling. One is never too old to enjoy the rewards of aggressive frugallling. It’s a great habit to establish when you are young. Then there is that true old saying “There is no frugaler like an old frugaler.”

My friends, this is my story I turned in to Miss Essie as I can best recall. There is actually more to the story but I frugaled it and sent it to Paul Harvey for his radio segment “The rest of the story.” Unfortunately, Paul Harvey died before it aired. I have always wondered if he read it and if he was a frugaler. If he did, I’m sure he would have remembered it the rest of his life but not as long as I have.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hank's observations

The early bird may get the worm but the owl doesn't give a hoot.