Well, after almost three years into this pandemic Kate and I finally contracted COVID. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky to have gone this long without getting it, but that is of little comfort considering how we’re feeling at the moment.

I came down with it first, and Kate the next day, so her symtoms have been a day behind mine, which has been a cruel insight for her as she sees what is coming next. Yesterday was my worst day, or so I hope, which means today is hers. She is barely able to function and we’re running low on groceries.

Even though we’ve had numerous offers of help we have been hesitant to ask. We try not to be a burden to anyone, but today was the day we had to seek some kind of assistance. So, we had one friend do some grocery shopping for us, while some other friends picked up a Starbucks order for us. To be honest, anyone who knows us knows that I don’t cook, so with Kate feeling so poorly I decided to order some prepared food from Starbucks that Kate likes and that can be reheated in the microwave. We’ll see how that goes.

For anyone who’s already been thru this, then you know how unpleasant it is. For us its severity is about the same as the worst case of flu that we’ve ever had. We were a young married couple at the time and my mother came to our rescue with groceries and medicine. I vividly remember my mother coming into the house after I warned her not to as we didn’t want her to be exposed to such illness, but she came in anyway and I can still see her sitting in my chair in the corner of the living room, checking on us and making sure that we were all set. A mother’s love, care and concern never changes, no matter the age of her child.

Yesterday Kate was so sad over the fact that she hasn’t seen any sun in weeks and she felt as though she was going to snap. Well, late this morning we caught a brief glimpse of sunlight, but Kate was stretched across both parts of our sectional sofa at the time and was sound asleep. Knowing how much she needed her rest I resisted the urge to wake her so she could see the light peeking through the grey sky. I was torn between the medicine of rest vs the hope of a new day and light. In the end I choose a restorative rest for her, hoping that is what she needs and will be the best thing for her at this point.

I have tried working remotely these past two days, but finding myself tiring quickly I was limited to how much I could accomplish. So, between fitful naps I started re-reading a book that I first read back in 2003. It’s titled “The Secret Life of Cowboys” by Tom Groneberg. It’s about a young man who leaves the city life after college and pursues his dream to become a cowboy. It is a story filled with joy and heartbreak. Tom tells his story in a way that is brutally honest. He doesn’t hold back and I only wish I could tell a story the way he does.

The author brings to light the fact that with great pain, suffering and sacrifice you can find strength in their lessons, and sometimes you need to learn that your success lies in learning from your defeats. While sorting thru our book collection over the years I could never bring myself to part with this book, and I’m glad that I did not. I like his gritty writing, and I like his story. It has brought me comfort knowing that even though Kate and I feel miserable at the moment, if we hang tight, keep our faith in each other and in God, a brighter day lies ahead.

COVID will run its course and hopefully with no long-term effects for us. And for the moment I will take solace in the fact that it could be worse, that we have loving friends and family who are keeping tabs on us, and that God is great, especially during trying times.

A special thank you to everyone for your well wishes, concern and help. As always, thank you for reading. Looking forward to sunnier days and better health!

No cart left behind

I stopped into our local Costco on Saturday to pick up a pie for National Pie Day, and if you have read my previous blogposts you are familiar with my love of pie and when National Pie Day is! Hint – it’s not the more well known March 14th.

As I was walking back to my car I came across a conversation between two other shoppers. Apparently one of the customers was pulling out of her parking space and had left her shopping cart in the lot near her space. The other customer who was parked near her asked, somewhat sarcastically, if she was going to just leave her cart there for someone else to move? The lady who was leaving went into a very calm explanation that she had asked the person who was waiting to pull into her soon to be vacated spot if she would like the cart, and the incoming customer apparently said yes. And with that the departing customer looked at the complaining customer and said rather sternly, “so just mind your own business!” The gentleman started to retort but she simply closed her window and drove off.

I, happy not to be caught in the crossfire, got into my car and simply watched and waited, and sure enough, the incoming customer parked her car, got out, and took the abandoned cart back with her to the store. I might add that the gentleman who started the whole back and forth watched as well, and I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought.

Now, let me be clear here, I’m one of those people who doesn’t appreciate other people who lack the courtesy to return their shopping cart either to the designated area or to the store. However, as I begin to age out of this lifetime I have learned that I don’t know what’s going on in that person’s life. They may be under extreme stress, or may simply be having a bad day. So, I have learned to be a little less quick to criticize and perhaps be a little more understanding. And if I have to park a little farther away from the store because a cart has been left in a parking spot, well I can grab the cart on my way by and count the extra steps as part of my wellness goals. I see no good coming from having a verbal altercation with someone whom I don’t know, nor do I know their personal circumstances.

At this point you have to be wondering what my point is with all of this. Well, here it is, can we all just calm down a little bit and be a little more understanding, accepting and tolerate of one another??!! We may think we know what is best, what is right, et cetera, but everything is not always as it seems. Our first order of business should be making sure that our own actions are in order, and if they are then congratulations, you have achieved something that few people have. Someday I hope to be one of those people but for now I know that I’m still a work in progress. There are many instances of kindness in this world, I only hope that we all continue to learn from those examples, and if we do, then this world will truly be a better place for all of us.

Now, where did I put my car keys??

Control your perspective, control your happiness

I have a summer refuge where I love to spend quiet time. It’s our back patio. My wife & I designed the space to be a place of tranquility.

One of my favorite summer things to do is to have my morning coffee on the patio and to review everything in my life that I am thankful for, and luckily for me, that’s a long list.

This morning was one of those mornings, and even though not everything is as I would hope I still decided that life is good and I savored the moment.

Before heading back into the house to get ready for the day I checked the news which reinforced the view that not everyone thinks life is good at the moment.

For everyone out there that has decided to make political activism their life’s mission, good for you. As I have mentioned in previous posts, following politics is part of my job responsibilities, especially as to how pending legislation affects small business.

With that said, I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re rooting for, and I’ve been on both sides at one time or another in my life, if your happiness is dependent upon a particular political outcome then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Trust me, politics is a blood sport and political decisions go back and forth depending on the wind that day. Now, I wish it wasn’t that way, but that’s the reality of politics, but that’s not my point with this blog.

I learned a while back that your happiness is dependent on you, the choices that you make, and on your perspective of life in general. There are so many outside influences that have an effect on your daily life that you have to be careful and prioritize those things that are most important to you and not let everything else overshadow them. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about fleeting happiness, like when you get a free upsize at the coffee shop, I’m talking about overall happiness, your collective life and being, also known as the Big Picture.

For me its my Faith, wife, home, family and business. And as my wife will tell you, I defend the sanctity of home with a fervent passion. When we invite you into our home it is with love, acceptance and respect. That’s how we live, and I will expect no less from anyone else within the walls of our home. And that’s an important way in which we keep our lives in balance and happy in a world that seems to grow crazier by the day.

Please note that I didn’t say you have to agree with our life philosophies, whether it be religious or political, just respect our view as we will yours. It’s ok to disagree with someone’s view, it’s not ok to attack them for it. Honestly, I prefer to talk with people who have opposing views as it’s a challenge for me and helps me to grow. Unfortunately those days seem to be behind us.

But as usual, I digress. My point is, don’t let other people or events, whether it be politicians, employers/employees, SCOTUS decisions or something as mundane as today’s weather forecast determine if you’re happy. Instead focus on all that you have been blessed with and be thankful for each and every one of them! And if you’re a person of faith and believe in God, then be sure to thank Him, even when you’re having a tough day. Your happiness resides within you, sometimes you just have to reach a little deeper to find it. It’s there, it’s always there, it just gets buried sometimes with all of the other trivial nonsense that is day to day life.

As always, thank you for reading. To quote the lyrics of a Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

In memory of Chloe, our Bernese Mtn. Dog that was a shining example of how to be happy every day!

My limited foray into social media

I initially shied away from social media but over the past few years I decided to try some platforms to see if it’s all that people say it is.

So, I opened a Twitter & LinkedIn account, started subscribing to YouTube videos, pinned some articles on Pinterest when we were renovating our house, and last but not least opened an Instagram account. I decided to examine these various accounts to see what, if anything, they added to my life. I never did open a Facebook account.

Full disclosure, some of my job duties include keeping tabs on any legislative issues at any level of government that may have an impact on our business, good or bad. With that said, that makes politics a part of my life, as I feel it should be for most people as it affects us all, but it shouldn’t be your life unless it’s your fulltime job.

So, my first social media account was LinkedIn, which as you may know is a professional networking platform, and for the most part I see great value in this platform for anyone working or seeking employment. It’s also a great way to keep in touch with business colleagues who may change employers and/or locations. In my humble opinion, this is by far the best professional network platform in social media, and I appreciate all that it has to offer. Some of the participants have complained about the increasing number of political posts and would prefer to keep it strictly business in nature. However, anyone who has ever owned a small business is acutely aware of how politicians, especially their laws & regulations in particular, affect your business each & every day. So, I believe politics should have a place at the table in any business-related social media platform.

From there I have mixed feelings about the rest of the social media platforms that I tried. I recently closed my Twitter account for a number of reasons, but most of all due to a lack of civility by its members, especially when the topic involves politics. I can’t help but believe that people would not say in public or to someone’s face what they feel free to say on Twitter. There is downright hate & malice directed from people towards others who may think differently than they do. Now don’t get me wrong, I followed some great people on Twitter who added great perspectives on various issues, but in the end I didn’t feel it was the best use of my time by scrolling thru various Twitter posts.

Pinterest is a great platform to help you decide on different home renovations, which my wife & I found extremely helpful, especially giving us the ability to print pictures to show the contractor of how we wanted the finished project to look. Kate has also used Pinterest for decorating ideas. And even though Pinterest has a host of other uses, we have found our home projects to be the best use of that platform.

If you’re a visual person, then YouTube is the place to be! I use it to watch music videos, and listen to music in general while at work, as well as how to assemble or fix something. There are great videos of exercise routines which I refer to periodically. I really think that YouTube is one of the best overall platforms currently out there, and honestly, I don’t know how society ever functioned without it! If I was only allowed to keep one social media platform, it would have to be YouTube.

The platform that gives me the greatest joy would have to be Instagram. It’s like Facebook but without all the drama. Now don’t get me wrong, if you want drama you can find it on Instagram as well as any of the other social media platforms, but I have found that it’s easily minimized with Instagram. I have one rule when I follow an Instagram account and that is I won’t follow an account that is political in nature or posts an inordinate amount of political themed subjects. I certainly support everyone’s right to post as they wish, but that’s not why I’m on Instagram, and I admit, my grading of such material is entirely subjective. Instead, my wife & I enjoy seeing our friends & family and their many activities and accomplishments, which also provides a great timeline of their lives. The only downside here is that I think people sometimes see their social media accounts as a substitute for personal interactions, which should never be the case. I look at social media as an enhancement of personal relationships, not as a substitute for engaging in social visits.

And that is probably my biggest concern with social media, in that it has become a substitute for people’s personal relationships. It has also allowed people to become more divisive and dismissive. It has taken the political discourse straight to the gutter, and worse. Social media has a tendency to quickly bring out the worst in people. Luckily there are a number of people who are trying to push back by posting uplifting & positive material, factual & focused material, posts with a possible solution to a current challenge. Anyone can be petty & derisive, but it takes someone of substance to look at a given situation and use positive & constructive criticism to find a solution.

So, for what it’s worth, there’s my humble perspective on various social media platforms. While enjoying any one of these platforms or the many others that are available, let’s just remember to stop looking at our phones for a while and just enjoy the moment that’s before us in all of its glory & splendor. Instead of being a passive bystander watching life on your phone, try being part of the activity and enjoy actually engaging in the moment. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

As always, thank you for reading, and may we pray for the citizens of Ukraine and a speedy end to the war.

Life is a matter of Perspective

I recently came across the below graphic and it reminded me that how we approach life is a matter of one’s perspective –

As we look back at this difficult time in our history, let us be thankful for the fact that for many of us even though it has been a tough time, it has not been an impossible time. Most of us have lived to fight another day, and though we miss the many we have lost, we will never forget them and we were blessed to have them for the time that we did. Hopefully we were able to make someone’s life better during this time, and by doing so, perhaps we made our lives a little better too.

How fortunate are those individuals who have had pets during this time, and how fortunate those pets are that were able to spend extra time with their families. Thank you John Fenwick for giving us such an inspirational perspective on 2020, which has carried on thru 2021.

As always, thank you for reading. Looking forward to the day when this pandemic will be behind us. In the meantime, stay safe, and stay well.

To Chloe, where ever you are –

Life without Chloe

Well, it’s been almost 5 months since Chloe has crossed the rainbow bridge, and I have been surprised by a few people asking me when my next blog would be coming out.

The truth be told, I have been hesitant to post anything since the loss of Chloe as I want to keep her story at the top of my posts. I know that Kate and I will have to move on eventually but it’s proving to be more difficult than we imagined.

Eleven days after Chloe passed we attended the annual Bernese Mtn. Dog picnic in Ithaca hoping that it would help with our grieving process. We met a wonderful BMD puppy that we held and snuggled with, but on the ride home we both agreed that none of the dogs there were our Chloe, and none could fill the void that she has left.

We are getting used to having the freedom to come and go as we please once again, but the pain of coming home and not having Chloe greet us at the door is still real and persistent. Hell, I’m wiping the tears from my eyes as I write this!

What prompted me to write this latest blog is that I came across something on my Instagram account and it made me think of Kate and Chloe’s relationship, and I thought I would post it for the two of them –

Waiting At The Door

I was just a pup when we first met, I loved you from the start,
you picked me up and took me home and placed me in your heart,
good times we had together, we shared all life could throw,
but years passed all too quickly, my time has come to go.
I know how much you miss me, I know your heart is sore,
I see the tears that fall when I’m not waiting at the door.
You always did your best for me
your love was plain to see
for even though it broke your heart
you set my spirit free.
So please be brave without me,
one day we’ll meet once more,
for when you’re called to Heaven
I’ll be waiting at the door.


I was told by my one nephew that all dogs go to heaven. Well, if ever a dog deserved to be there, that would be our Chloe~girl.

As always thank you for reading, and for all of the incredible support and understanding that Kate & I have received these past 5 months. It has made a world of difference for both of us.

Ode to Chloe


The Three Musketeers
“All for one and one for all.”

For any of you who have read my previous posts, you know how our Bernese Mountain Dog, Chloe, came into our lives. And as my wife has repeated many times since, Chloe has been a life changing experience for us, as well as one of the best decisions that we have ever made.

So it is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I have to report on Chloe’s passing. She far surpassed the vet’s expectations regarding longevity, but for Kate & I our time with her was still far too short and we’re grieving deeply. She passed with her head in my lap, and Kate holding her paw.

One of Chloe’s greatest joys was when all three of us were together, whether it be playing in the yard, watching tv, or all of us snuggling in her dog bed, with Chloe touching both of us simultaneously. Which is why early on we adopted our nickname “The Three Musketeers”.

For Chloe, her inner circle consisted of Chloe, Kate and myself, and in just that order of importance. There were many family & friends that Chloe loved, and who loved her. And while enjoying their attention, and without them realizing it, she would often position herself between them and us, never quite letting them into that all important inner circle of “The Three Musketeers”.

Unlike most dogs, Chloe was not fazed by fireworks, gunfire or thunderstorms. However, let Kate or myself sneeze and she would come running from wherever she was with her tail between her legs and we had to comfort & reassure her that we were ok. Almost every night, approximately a 1/2 hour after I went to bed, Chloe would get up, place her nose on the edge of my side of the bed and if I didn’t acknowledge her right away, she would start whining, and each whine would get louder until I would reach over, pet her on the head, give her a hip massage, then assure her that I was ok and that she should go to bed, at which point she would.

Over the years while out with Chloe she was attacked a few times by other dogs, and though she never fought back, she never ran away either. I think she thought of herself as a decoy drawing the attacker’s attention away from me. Thankfully, neither of us was ever seriously hurt.

Chloe was brutal to her toys, many of which didn’t make it to the end of the day without being shredded. However, there was one toy from my mother that she always treated differently. It was a stuffed duck wearing goggles and a cape. It came with a hand-held launcher and when it was flying thru the air it would make a funny quacking noise. Well, the first time we launched it Chloe went running after it, and when it landed it was still making that noise, and Chloe must have thought it was alive. So, she gently picked it up and carefully brought it back to us, and she handled that toy very tenderly from that point forward, so we always called it her ” baby”.

Chloe liked to play soccer and was very adept at using her front paws to move the ball and block you from stealing it. Chloe couldn’t tell the difference between a soccer ball and a basketball, so whenever the neighbor children would leave their basketball out Chloe would immediately run over to it, grab it in her mouth and try to play soccer with us. On three different occasions she punctured the ball before we could get it, so I went out one day and purchased three new basketballs, one for each of the neighbor’s homes who lost one to Chloe. Needless to say, the kids were delighted with their new treasures.

Her favorite toy was the rubber squeaker ball. I remember one Spring day in particular when I spent 4 hours working out in the yard and she squeaked her rubber ball the entire time……..THE ENTIRE TIME! The first rubber squeaker ball lasted about a year before she figured out how to pull the squeaker out. After that, the squeaker in each new rubber ball lasted for a shorter period of time, until finally she was able to destroy it in less than an hour. So from that point forward she was only allowed to play with it when we could keep an eye on her, so as to make sure it lasted for an appropriate amount of time.

For reasons unknown to us, Chloe wasn’t fond of landscaping. As a puppy she tore up Kate’s newly planted ground cover along the lower patio. I can still picture her going along the foundation and pulling the groundcover up in clumps until she had it all out. Needless to say, Kate wasn’t impressed! When we were doing yard work, Chloe would pounce on fallen branches and chew them into small pieces, thus making them harder to clean up, all the while thinking she was helping us. She also loved to pounce on and shred fallen leaves and I often wondered if that was due to her being born in the autumn, thus reliving some of her earliest memories.

Chloe went to work with me almost every day. She loved to go from office to office getting scratches, attention and the occasional treat from the employees. One of my former assistants came back from lunch one day visibly upset. She then proceeded to tell me, with Chloe standing nearby, the story of how she had just accidently hit and killed a Canadian goose with her car, and how terrible that was. As my assistant and I discussed the situation, Chloe left the office and came back with her stuffed goose toy and in a show of affection, presented it to my assistant. Needless to say, that somehow made everything better. A huge thank you to all of the staff for your many kindnesses to Chloe over the years.

One unusual aspect of Chloe was that she LOVED to visit her Vet! She couldn’t wait to get out of the car and go in and meet all of her friends. And with that in mind, I would like to thank Dr. Otto and her entire staff for always being so caring and kind when it came to Chloe’s care. She loved you all!

And then there’s Chloe favorite place of all to visit, K-9 Kamp doggie daycare. As soon as we would turn the corner onto Bridge St. and mention doggie daycare, she knew where we were headed and would stand up in the back seat and start whining. We had to be careful when opening the rear door of the car as Chloe couldn’t wait to get out. Chloe made many friends there, human and animal, so a special thank you to Chad and his entire staff for giving Chloe such joy & happiness.

To the world Chloe was just a dog, but for Kate and I, Chloe became our world. We learned how to make our home dog safe, and when Chloe’s medical condition worsened with age, we learned how to make our home senior dog friendly. She has left a permanent impression on our hearts and has left us with memories of joy, kindness, and unconditional love. She was a big dog with a big heart, soulful brown eyes and a gentle kiss. I only hope that we were able to return as much love to her as she did to us. I know that Chloe has taught us so much about giving love, being patient, being happy and not to be afraid to be silly. Yes, to the world she was just a dog, but to us she was a continual lesson in everything that is good in life and more. May she rest in peace and may she be able to squeak her toys to her heart’s content while basking in God’s love. And one day may the Three Musketeers be reunited once again, “All for one and one for all”

In closing I think Anatole France said it best, “Until one has loved a dog, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Chloe – Bernese Mountain Dog 09/20/2009 – 06/02/2021.

May you sleep in heavenly peace baby girl. What an adventure it has been!

To V or not to V

To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate, that seems to be the question of late.

As we all continue to navigate our way thru this pandemic, the question of the day seems to be, have you received your vaccination yet, and if not, why not?

As a small employer, we have made the decision to not mandate that our employees receive the vaccine. Not only for legal implications, but also, we recognize that this is a very personal decision that should be left to the individual. We are also very fortunate in the fact that our facility allows for proper social distancing.

So, when did it become socially acceptable to inquire of a person as to their medical decisions? Whatever happened to HIPAA and recognizing someone’s right to privacy? And really, if someone decides not to vaccinate, and you have decided to vaccinate, then does the unvaccinated person pose a danger to you, or only to themselves?

Since the vaccine has become available my wife and I talk about whether we should vaccinate or not on an almost daily basis. And to my wife’s credit, she has done an incredible amount of research on the pros and cons of the COVID vaccine, along with each manufacturer’s individual vaccine. We have both consulted with our perspective doctors, and what the benefits and risks are for each one of us should we decide to vaccinate, or if we decide not to. In my case, I have had two lengthy discussions with my primary care physician, and there are some significant risks for me either way. Also, we’re both on the drug Hydroxychloroquine for an unrelated medical condition. Now, depending on the day of the week, and which way the winds are blowing that day, it has been said by a number of medical professionals that Hydro may very well be a therapy drug to be used in treating COVID, while others say not so much. Here is what my wife and I do know, that we live our lives in faith and not in fear, we are now more than a year into this pandemic, both of us have been out and about during this past year, and thankfully, neither of us have been taken seriously ill. Is it the luck of the draw that we’re on this drug at this time in history, or is it just coincidence that we haven’t fallen ill? A question that we still have not had sufficiently answered. What we do know is that whatever we’re doing is working for us.

But here’s the point of today’s blog. Recently, my wife has received pressure from friends and family who have been urging her to take the vaccine. Now, I have no doubt that this pressure is coming from a place of love and concern, but it has been causing my wife a great deal of angst as she’s still weighing all of her options, which then caused me a great deal of angst as well, which then caused my wife even more angst. So, after a sleepless night and enough angst to go around for everyone, I looked at my wife and told her that this is her decision to make and no one else’s. That I was impressed with her decision making process, that she’s a strong and intelligent woman, that I have learned to trust her decisions, that she will make the right decision for her, and that I will support her in whatever decision she makes, whether I agree with it or not, because it’s HER decision to make. And that no one has the right to ask about her decision, let alone question it. My wife looked at me in the way that a wife does and simply said, “thank you”.

Just between you and me, I don’t think I ever told her before how impressed I was with her decision making process and I think I kind of surprised her!

These are difficult times, and people are trying to make difficult decisions. With that in mind, let’s focus on and have faith in each person’s ability to make well informed, intelligent decisions regarding their medical care, decisions which are personal and private. And instead of asking someone if they have received the vaccine, or pressuring them to do so, let’s instead greet them with a warm hello and a wish for their continued good health. I think we will all be happier by doing such.

As always, thank you for reading and wishing you much health and happiness.

Cleft Palate you say!

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I was born with a cleft palate and lip. This is a medical condition where your upper lip and roof of your mouth does not fully come together before you are born, thus leaving a gap from your lip thru the roof of your mouth. It’s not pretty, but fortunately it’s repairable.

It has caused me numerous problems over the years, from difficulty eating as a baby, to reconstructive surgery, a misaligned bite, teeth that were crooked, one of which even came in sideways! Let’s just say the social hurdles were just as difficult, if not more so!

Recently one of my upper teeth became infected which resulted in an emergency visit to my dentist. We had talked two years earlier that this tooth was probably going to be a problem for me in the not too distant future, and he reminded me of that conversation. My quick reply was to ask him to cut to the chase and tell me what is involved in fixing my current situation.

He proceeded to tell me that the particular tooth in question is located right where the cleft was in my mouth, and with the reconstructive surgery that I had, there appeared to be a gap in my upper jaw line where there should be bone, which means there may be no way to install an implant to replace the damaged tooth. So, that means either leaving a gaping hole in my already lacking smile, or have a bridge made that would connect to the existing teeth.

My dentist made an appointment with an oral surgeon who will be taking 3D x-rays in order to properly assess the situation, after which I will be meeting with my dentist to see what they think the proper course of action should be.

What is leading me to write this blog is that for the first time in my life I actively sought out a support group for cleft palate patients, and though I found some, I didn’t see a lot out there that I would consider. What I did find was a young man with a cleft that was wondering about God, and how a kind & merciful God could allow someone to be born with such an affliction. He went on to complain about the hand he was dealt, and wondered if anyone else out there felt like he did about God and religion due to their medical condition.

Now, as a man of faith, and no stranger to heartache & tragedy, I can only offer my simple understanding of such matters. As part of the human experience, not only do we know great joy, love & happiness, but we also must endure great pain and sadness. And for someone with a birth defect, many times that pain and sadness must be endured on a daily basis. Trust me, there is no shortage of callus people in the world who are more than happy to comment on or question you about your obvious differences.

God knows & understands the human condition far better than we can comprehend, and God does not promise us that we will not experience pain & sorrow in our lifetime. It is however, during times such as this, if you’re willing & open to accept it, that a kind, loving, & merciful God offers & promises His love, His mercy, and His strength so that we can endure such trials and tribulations. God is our bridge over troubled waters, our calm amidst the storm.

Trust me, there were times when I asked God, “Why me God, why must I suffer from such an affliction?” But eventually you realize, if not you, then who? Would you wish this on someone else, anyone else? I think not. When I was born, my parents did not have all of the emotional & financial support that’s available today, but somehow they managed. And in the process, they wouldn’t allow me to feel sorry for myself. This was the hand I was dealt, and I would have to learn to live with it to the best of my abilities. And thankfully, with their firm guidance, and God’s grace, the necessary abilities were instilled within me and I managed to live a pretty successful and full life.

Every night when I lay my head down to sleep I thank God for that day of my life and for all of the blessings that He has bestowed on me, including my beautiful wife. As I see it, you can either blame God for all that is not right with your life, or you can ask God for His help to make your life right. For me, I chose the latter, and it truly has made all the difference for me, and for what I have been able to accomplish.

Hopefully when all of the tests are finished for my latest oral challenge and my medical team reviews the options with me, the fix will be simple. If that happens to not be the case, then I will ask God for his guidance, strength and mercy to be able to endure however this may go. And to all of my cleft palate brothers and sisters out there who are enduring the heartache of living with such an affliction, I ask that you turn to God and ask for His help with all of your struggles and pain, for He is kind, He is merciful, and He will listen.

And to all of you who take time out of your daily life to read my blogs I offer a simple “Thank you.”

It’s the Grammys baby!

The Grammys has always been a special night for me and I have rarely missed its broadcast. In fact, my wife and I have a standing date every year for Grammy night and have never missed one since we started dating. She started making special hors d’oeuvres and desserts for us to enjoy while watching the show, which made the evening just a little more special. We even have a crystal gramophone to commemorate our years of watching the show.

We always enjoyed the diversity of singers & genres on the show, and always looked forward to the possibility of a surprise performance. I especially looked forward to the big gospel number they would put on, usually at the end. But over the years, the broadcast has become less diverse as well as more political. I don’t watch the Grammys to have my social conscience raised, I have enough news broadcasts and pundits to watch for that. I watch the show to be entertained, to forget about the world and its troubles for a few hours and to watch and hear extreme talent.

Let’s be clear, there was some extreme talent on display last night, in particular, Bruno Mars, especially his tribute set to Little Richard. The three woman rock band Haim, in my humble opinion, sounded no better than a high school garage band. My apologies to all of you aspiring garage bands. Harry Styles surprised me with his performance of Watermelon Sugar which was upbeat and well done. Lionel Richie’s tribute to Kenny Rogers with “Lady” I thought was also well done. The surprise performance of the evening for me was Mickey Guyton. I have not heard of her before her Grammy performance but loved her vocals.

The big disappointment of the evening was Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion. I remember when performers were judged more on their vocal abilities, and not so much for their stage antics. As someone who loves vocals & lyrics that can bring a tear to your eye, the performance of “Up” & “WAP” to me was no more than overly sexualized choreography, for which Trevor Noah gave a lame excuse of how to explain the performance to your children should they be watching. And regarding Trevor, let me just say that he’s no LL Cool J, who in my opinion always did a great job hosting the Grammys.

So, as further evidence that the Grammys has lost its shine for my wife and I, for the first time ever we turned the show off before it was over and called it a night. The annual magic was gone and we knew it. And yes, I agree, they were trying to put on a show during a pandemic which made everything that much more difficult. But sadly, “music’s biggest night” has been shrinking year after year, not only in the quality of its performers, but also in its actual audience numbers. You see, for me it’s not a matter of whether the performer is a member of a minority or not, it’s not about correcting social imbalances, it’s about the ability of someone to perform, to make me feel those notes, to experience the beauty and raw emotion in their voice. Anything after that is just icing on the cake for me.

My understanding is that The Recording Academy is going thru a bit of an upheaval, both within its Executive ranks and its voting procedures, and that may not be a bad thing. The sad thing is that in their rush to correct past wrongs, they may be doing the music industry as a whole a disservice.

As an avid fan of the show I’m hoping The Recording Academy can re-capture the magic that once was, instead of leaving me feeling like Neil Diamond’s and Barbara Streisand’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” anymore.

As always, thank you for reading, and stay safe, stay healthy.